Leimen, Germany. People have always been fascinated with tests of strength. As far back as ancient Egypt or antiquity, artefacts have been preserved that show people lifting weights and competing against each other. Weightlifting is a core Olympic sport and has naturally been part of the Modern Olympic Games since their inception in 1896 by the Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin. 

And despite this long history, changes are part and parcel of our sport. While stones were used at first, people later used barbells with interchangeable weights. Single-arm and double-arm snatches, thrusts and presses were performed. In 1976, at the Montreal Summer Olympics, medals were awarded for the first time in the combined event. In Sydney in 2000, women celebrated their long-awaited Olympic debut and in two years’ time at the Olympic Games in Paris, there will be as many women competing as men.


In my view, one of our most urgent tasks is finding solutions for future challenges together. What could weightlifting look like in 2050? I think it is essential to find new forms of competition. In April 2022, the International IWF Streetlifting Cup premiered in Lausanne, Switzerland. We should pursue and establish such formats. We need to take the barbell out of the gym more often and bring it to the people. Unfortunately, many people perceive weightlifting as a sport that takes place in gloomy halls during the dark winter months.
But the past two years have shown us in a very poignant way that, confronted with the pandemic and lockdowns, a rethink is now required. Weightlifting without fans is like a concert without music. The cheers of the spectators give the lifters the extra percentages they need to achieve a new personal best. We have to bring this special atmosphere of absolute silence at the beginning of an attempt and the exploding emotions on stage and in the crowd during the lift to a wider audience. Our sport has – in contrast to many others – another big plus: Where else can women and men compete together? We have to make better use of this potential. Why not consider cooperation with streaming services? How about establishing new, shorter competition formats?


Almost every other sport uses elements of weightlifting for basic training. Through cooperation with other German sports federations such as the German Athletics Association but of course also with other international federations, we want to use synergies, support each other and benefit from each other. We are aware that we still have further potential in areas such as sponsoring, marketing and promotion. We want to use this to bring the sport and the federation more into the public spotlight. Our flagships are the national team and the top level of our national league. The athletes who compete there are strong characters and are the best advertisement for our sport – which is why we want to make them better known. Of course, international championships help with this. For this reason, it is our goal to bring such tournaments to Germany and to be great hosts.

German Weightlifting League

In Germany we have a first and second division similar to the German football Bundesliga. At the top level of the German Weightlifting League, eight teams from different clubs compete against each other for half a year. Each team consists of six athletes who compete against each other. Points are determined by the so-called relative score (lifted load relative to body weight) and the team with the most points wins the match. The team that wins the snatch, clean and jerk and the combined event receives three points. If, for example, a team only wins the snatch, it receives one point, and so on.
The results of the competitions are recorded in a table and the three best teams will compete against each other in a finals series.
The foundations for exciting finals, which are held as a three-way competition in the first division, are laid in the clubs. In view of the challenges of the past two years, we have adapted our rules and, in particular, made it possible for the teams in the lower leagues to compete with fewer lifters. These changes were necessary due to the restrictions imposed on training, which were not very conducive to gaining new members. Thanks to the creativity and perseverance of our members, the work on the barbell and in the weight room could be by and large continued. Thanks to the easing of restrictions, the number of competitions and tournaments is now increasing.
The German Weightlifting League is very important for the federation and should gain more importance in Germany and internationally and be developed in the coming years. Strong partners and sponsors are needed for this and the first discussions have already taken place.
Among other events, the German Weightlifting Open will be held in July. This event is also open to foreign athletes and offers an excellent opportunity for exchange and international cooperation. If you would like to take part, please contact me at sperl@bvdg-online.de.
Such outstanding competitions can only be organised and run smoothly with the help of many volunteers. Without this active voluntary support and activities in the day-to-day training in the local clubs, weightlifting could not take place. Grassroots is the backbone of our sport. It is here that talents are discovered and developed, it is here that community is fostered and social responsibility is assumed. It is our clear goal to take the needs of the clubs seriously and to support the volunteers. They deserve a great deal of thanks for their tireless commitment.
We are aware of the challenge of maintaining the time-honoured traditions of our sport and maintaining our history, while at the same time opening our minds to the new – both in terms of sport and structure. We are convinced that this is the only right way. In order to be successful, we have to make use of the family-like togetherness within weightlifting, from grassroots to elite sport, so that our sport is in the best possible position for the future.
Florian Sperl, President, German Weightlifting Federation

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