Two Olympic sports, the same man: the case of Attila Adamfi
Sofía González
April 11, 2024

We met Attila Adamfi in Birmingham. He is Vice President of two Olympic sports federations and Acting General Secretary of one of them. On the one hand, Vice President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and, on the other hand, General Secretary and Vice President of the Federation of International Bandy (FIB). Both sports are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and while weightlifting is an individual and summer sport on the programme of the Olympic Games, Bandy is a team and winter sport working on joining the Winter Olympic Games hopefully soon. If it has always been said that one person cannot be divided into two, in Attila’s case, he makes it easy. We sat down with him in the context of SportAccord 2024 and he tells us how he brings these two worlds together and how he got to where he is today.

How did you start in both sports and when?

When I was younger, I was a Bandy player. My first Bandy World Championships was in 1991 and I retired from the sport in 2015 so, as you see, I was a Bandy athlete for quite a long period of time. Hungary, where I am from, plays in group B, which means that we are amateurs, we are not professional and we don’t have the same financial resources as other countries. But Hungary has won group B of the World Championships the last two editions, so we are, so to speak, the best amateurs. I became president of the Hungarian federation about 20 years ago and vice-president of FIB about 15 years ago.

When in October 2022 our president Boris Skrynnik from Russia, realized that his passport was a problem to lead an IOC recognised federation, he resigned and wanted to ensure that FIB is led by people who care about the future of the our sport – so Stein Pedersen (President) and me got the trust from the bandy Family.

Attila Adamfi playing Bandy,

When I came to Bandy, it is true that I had to face different challenges, besides, we had just left COVID, we had the challenge with one of our strongest member, Russia. We worked hard but every effort always has its reward. Since I was appointed as Acting Secretary General , we have been able to achieve a lot despite of the challenges, including Statutes improvement with major Good Governance principles, minutes, financial reports published serving greater transparency, successful WADA Code Compliance, improved presence on digital platforms, cooperation with Olympic Channel, just to highlight a few. Now we continue and will continue to face challenges, certainly one of the biggest is not having Russia in Bandy, which is one of the most successful countries in the sport and with the most players. We will always follow the recommendations of the IOC, but it is true that it poses us great challenges.

In the case of weightlifting, I came to the sport almost by chance when attended the University of Sport. I started working with the IWF from the bottom, going to events on a temporary basis and as a volunteer. The first job I had at the championships wascompetition mamagement system operator, entering the numbers that the athletes were going to lift into the system and so I was able to learn a lot about the sport and its strategies. I started to fall in love with weightlifting. I was never a weightlifting athlete, I was an athlete at Bandy while I was learning weightlifting, but it was a great experience.

“I am proud of how I started in both sports to which I dedicate my life today”

Which sport takes you more time?

Bandy, definitely. Although I always try to do more than what my position in weightlifting entails, in the IWF we are 5 vice presidents. In Bandy I have a more operational position with more responsibilities. I am a very active person in both sports and for me it is an honour to serve 2 sports. Being in a federation is more than traveling a couple of times a year to attend meetings, it is a huge responsibility as well especially towards the athletes.. I like to be active and help the sports as much as I can.

In weightlifting, for example, together with the Executive Board led by president Mohammed Jalood, we were able to achieve a lot since our election in June 2022 rewarded by the IOC by confirming weightlifting’s position for 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Just to mention a few, improving our governance with new Constitution, By-Laws, strenghtening our Anti-Doping Program, developing an Athletes centered Strategic Plan, creating IWF Refugee Team demonstrates the direction of the IWF led by the new generation of our leadership.

Are both sports, Weightlifting and Bandy, happy for you to work in both at the same time?

I believe so. And I think there are more advantages than disadvantages to working in two federations. The only issue that could occur is that two championships coincide on the same dates. Other than that there are no problems. I have a lot of connections and experience in both sports that help me both in one and the other and that’s fantastic.

And why did you come to SportAccord?

I have already attended 13 times SportAccord and, as I always call it, this is a “Sport speed dating” for a week. It has been 5 years since the last SportAccord and I am very happy to be able to come again and see so many colleagues with whom we can discover and discuss the current challenges in the world of sport and the Olympic world. We talk, share experiences, discuss how to solve problems that others have already faced… You learn a lot from events like this.

It is extremly important as I believe the ‘new norm’ is having challenges continuously…


And finally, what would you say right now are the three most important challenges to overcome in both sports?

In Bandy Russia is number one. Second would be for our sport to continue growing. Solving these first two challenges would bring Bandy more sustainable financial operations. Last, but not least, we would love to get our sport on the Olympic program for a future Olympic Games after Milano Cortina 2026. Bandy is an IOC recognized Olympic Sport and the second largest winter sport after Ice Hockey in terms of number of athletes. Beside this, a team sport would widen the Winter Games portfolio and so increase its value in many aspects. That’s why many people believe Bandy should be on the Olympic program and we are working to achieve that.

In Weightlifting I think we have done a very good job these last two years but of course there are still many things to improve. The first one would be financial sustainability, this is a major challenge. We need to grow revenues to maintain the current level in the sport, including having a more commercial thinking in our operation, considering the whole stenght and fitness industry. The second challenge would be to make Weightlifting more attractive to the audience, including new disciplines, like urban weightlifting. This second challenge would also bring us revenue of course, supporting the first challenge. Finally, to continue the great work we are doing in anti-doping will always be important, both in this sport and in all other sports. Right now we are one of the leading sports in anti-doping and we must continue with this rhythm, ‘minimum’ is not enough, we have to ensure ‘maximum’ device, in a sustainable way.

There will always be challenges and a chance to improve the world of Sports. The most important thing in my opinion is to always know there are things to improve and of course to know what is the next step to take.

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