COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Weightlifting (USAW) wants to grow the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and has approached hundreds of athletic directors with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
USAW contacted 297 athletic directors this month to gauge the interest of NAIA naming weightlifting as an emerging sport. To earn the designation, Olympic Weightlifting needs a minimum 15 club or varsity teams at NAIA-affiliated institutions. Currently eight NAIA-affiliated institutions carry club or varsity Olympic weightlifting.
In the U.S., one in three youth athletes drop out of the sport of Olympic Weightlifting by the time they reach the age of 18. These athletes usually play other sports that offer scholarships and competitions at the collegiate level.
By becoming an NAIA-emerging sport, USAW hopes to retain athletes and USAW-affiliated coaches by creating more scholarship and competitive opportunities.
“An essential part of our mission is to grow the sport of Olympic Weightlifting in the United States,” said Suzy Sanchez, USAW’s director of Grassroots Programs and Scouting.