Mohammed Alharbi hopes the deal with ZKC will "change the culture of weightlifting" around Asia ©Mohammed Alharbi

The Asian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) has partnered with the Chinese equipment manufacturer ZKC in the biggest commercial deal in its history.

It will use the $500,000 (£395,000/€450,000) sponsorship to help athletes who most need it, as part of a plan to "work as a family to change the culture of weightlifting" around Asia, said AWF general secretary Mohammed Alharbi.

"We have a new strategy to support countries but not just by giving them money," said Alharbi, from Saudi Arabia.

"We want to help by improving their weightlifting infrastructure, which might mean something as basic as making sure athletes have suitable halls for training, required equipment, sauna and even clean bathrooms and a change of clothes to use at a training centre.

"We want to go into things deeply, we ultimately want to support the athletes because we are here for them."

Before deciding who needs and gets support Alharbi will finish building a comprehensive database of nations detailing how many athletes they have and at what level, how many coaches, clubs, training centres and so on, plus details of existing or potential Government support.

"We cannot set any goals or make a long-term strategy until we have a database to work with," Alharbi said. The work might take another six months.

He will visit the countries to "see for myself where the support would go."

ZKC will provide $105,000 (£83,000/€95,000) worth of equipment and $20,000 (£15,830/€18,050) in cash every year for four years, said AWF President Yousef Al Mana, who praised Alharbi for brokering the deal after a month of negotiations.

The Asian Weightlifting Federation is set to use ZKC equipment at all of its competitions as part of the four-year deal ©ZKC
The Asian Weightlifting Federation is set to use ZKC equipment at all of its competitions as part of the four-year deal ©ZKC

The AWF will use ZKC equipment at all its competitions during the four years covered by the agreement, which comes into effect after the current Asian Championships in Jinju, Korea. 

ZKC also has a deal with the Pan American Federation, worth $50,000 (£39,560/€44,870) a year.

The Chinese Weightlifting Association (CWA) will also help Asian athletes by offering 40 free places at a training camp in the build-up to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, where the weightlifting competition runs from September 30 until October 7.

Final details are yet to be worked out, but there will be an 11-day training camp in the period between the IWF World Championships in Saudi Arabia, which end on September 17, and the first lift at the Asian Games.

The 40 will be given free accommodation and food, plus coaching seminars, at a 50-platform training centre in Jiangshan City, about two and a half hours from Hangzhou by road. Further places are available for $90 (£70/€80) a day.

Meng Bo, newly elected chair of the AWF’s Development Commission, said the total cost to the CWA would be $36,000 (£28,480/€32,300).

"This is very welcome and shows once again that China is very willing to help other nations," said Alharbi.

There will also be more support for International Technical Officials (ITOs) from the AWF.

They will have an allowance of $100 (£79/€89) a day after an agreement under which the AWF will pay $50 (£39/€44) and Organising Committees $50. 

This will make Asian ITOs the best-rewarded in the world - at International Weightlifting Federation events they receive $50 a day.