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Papandrea becomes first female vice-president of International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) (USA)

Ursula Papandrea has become the first woman ever to sit as a vice-president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) after being elected here.

Papandrea, 47, was an international lifter in the 1990s before becoming a top coach and, last year, President of USA Weightlifting.

In 2003 she became the first and only senior international coach in the United States who is a woman.

Now she has the most senior role ever held by a female at the IWF which, as of this year, also has gender equality in medal events with eight classes each for men and women.

With one place among the five vice-presidents guaranteed for a woman – a first in the IWF’s 112-year history – Papandrea defeated her sole rival Moira Lassen, of Canada, by 84 votes to 55.

Colombian Ana Camacho withdrew.

The role puts Papandrea on the Executive Board, where she will be joined by at least one other woman – again a guaranteed place – when further elections are held tomorrow.

Lassen and Camacho are standing, as are Kristina Koleva of Bulgaria and Karoliina Lundahl of Finland.

Papandrea was “part of the push, part of that generation of female lifters whose main goal while competing in the 1990s was to see women’s weightlifting in the Olympics”.

She retired from international competition in 1996, four years before women’s events were added to the Olympic programme.

“Very few women from that period actually made it to the Olympics,” said Papandrea, whose best friend Robyn Byrd-Goade is the only person who competed at both the first Women’s World Championship in 1987 and the first Women’s Olympic classes at Sydney in 2000.

“But when you are in a movement like that you are not seeking personal benefit.

“We were working to get women noticed internationally, performing internationally.”


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