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Pulling above their weight
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 01 - 04 - 2010

Egyptian weightlifters dominated an African championship held in Cairo, thus reserving a place in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Ghada Abdel-Kader reports
At the African Junior and Youth Weightlifting Championships at Cataract Pyramids Hotel, Egyptian weightlifters collected a whopping 87 medals, allowing Egypt to qualify for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
The championships, hosted by Egypt from 19- 26 March, were divided into junior men and women under 20 and men and women youth under 17. The participants were Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Tunisia.
It was the 16th edition of the African men's juniors and 11th for the women. It was the second time for both men and women that the youth tournament was held.
The championships were the gateway to the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore to be held from 16-26 August.
In the junior women's events Egypt came first with six gold and one silver. Nigeria came in second with one gold, two silver and three bronze. Tunisia finished third with three silver and two bronze.
In the girls segment, Egypt came first with four gold, one bronze and one silver. Nigeria came second with two gold, two silver and two bronze and Tunisia finished third with four medals two silver and two bronze. In both junior and youth women's competitions each country will have a woman weightlifter in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
In junior women's 75kg category Egypt's weightlifter Abeer Abdel-Rahman won the gold medal with 107 snatch and 140 clean and jerk, a total number of kilogrammes lifted at 247. Tunisian Mariem Saadaoui won silver with a total score 170. Ghanaian Ghaboatema Ampomah won the bronze with a 147 lift.
In the women's +75kg category, Egyptian Shaima Khalaf took first place with 231 total number of kilogrammes lifted. Tunisian Marwa Jlassi finished second with 202 and Iman Bouarada got third with 180.
In the women's 69kg category, Egyptian Amani Hamid garnered first place with 200 lifted, Tunisian Yousra Ammar finished second with 178 and Nigerian Bilikis Otunla came third with 165.
In the women's 63kg, Egypt's Shaima Mahmoud made it to first place with a combined 191 lifted. Marie Fegue from Cameroon came in second with 186 lifted and Tunisian Hajer Sallem third with 176 lifted.
In the women's 58kg category, Donia Mahmoud won the first place with total number of kilogrammes lifted 193, Nigerian weightlifters Racheal Ekoschoria finished second with 182 lift and Uche Agu finished third with 173 lift.
In women's 53 category, Nigerian weightlifters Elizabeth Onuah won the first place with total number of kilogrammes lifted 75 and Mufuli Bankole finished third with 63 lifted. The Egyptian weightlifter Basma Gouda won the second place with 74 lifted.
In the women's 48 category, Nigerian Tosan Bawo won the first place with total result 75 lifted. Egyptian weightlifter Lamyaa Ramadan finished second with total 75 and Christine Duval from Mauritius won the third place with 51. Ramadan set a new African record in Jerk and snatch with overall total record 330 kg.
In youth women's events, in girls 44kg, Egyptian Aliaa Zaki captured the gold medal lifting 110kg. Tunisian Khouloud Messikh won the silver with 78 lifted.
In girls 48kg, Nigerian Tosan Bawo won the gold medal after a 134 lift. Egyptian Lamyaa Ramadan won the silver with130 and Tunisian Zouhra Chihi the bronze 102 lifted.
In girls 53kg, Egyptian Basma Gouda won first place following a lift of 164. Nigerians Elizabeth Onuah won second 157 lifted and Mufuli Bankole third with 143 lifted. In the process, Ramadan set a new African record in the jerk and snatch with an overall total record 335kg.
In girls 58kg, Nigerian weightlifters Rachael Ekoschoria snatched first place with a total number of kilogrammes lifted at 182. Uche Agu won second with 173 lifted and Shaimaa Maged third with 170.
In girls 63kg, Egyptian Amal Mohamed won the first place with total number of kilogrammes lifted 179. Talalane Ramarou from South Africa won the second with 144 lifted and Aishat Ibrahim won the third with 120.
In girls 69kg, Egyptian Israa Fahmi won the gold medal with total number of kilogrammes lifted 175. Tunisian duo Yosra Dhieb won the silver and Syrine Guezmire the bronze.
In girls +69kg, Fahmi won the gold medal with total number of kilogrammes hoisted standing at 175. Dhieb won the silver with 160 and Guezmire the bronze 151.
In junior and youth scores Egypt came in first place, followed by Libya, Tunisia Algeria and South Africa. Each country thus will put one weightlifter in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Egypt previously had two male weightlifters in the 2009 Youth World Championship in Thailand.
"This championship has been very successful," president of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation (EWF) Mahmoud Shoukri said. "The battle between Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa was furious. The weightlifters' performance was very high."
On the sidelines of the championship the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in cooperation with the African Weightlifting Federation (AWF), and the EWF held a press conference at the headquarters of the Egyptian Olympic Committee in Cairo Stadium to discuss where the sport is at in Africa.
"We decide to establish more continental federations," IWF president Tamàs Ajàn said. "We consider this meeting very important. We started with Africa because we noticed that in the last 25 years African delegates participating in the Olympic Games were small in number, too small for a continent. It's a fact that Africa is full of talent. Also, in future we will organise more international tournaments in north and south Africa. In the last six or seven years we haven't seen any major championships in Africa.
"We are eyeing the future of weightlifting. We are going to training centres in Egypt, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa and in the future, we will establish clinics. We will give courses for coaches and referees and provide equipment. China and Turkey presented offers to Africa to set up training camps in their countries. Romania and the United States among other countries have also offered help," added Ajàn
"We want to create a much stronger and larger communication system because there is a lack of communication between international and continental federations. Because of a lack of public relations and marketing, Africa has to solve this problem and find sponsors and resources in order to receive financial earnings for the sport," said Ajàn.
"The IWF is fighting doping. We have fewer positive cases than other sports. Our anti-doping programmes are very strict. Last year, we developed anti-doping programmes based on prevention and education, control and punishment. If the IWF discovers a positive case the lifter is suspended for four years. Then, if there is another violation, he or she is suspended for life. Starting from this year any positive case in the Olympic Games will be punished by not participating again."
Ajàn congratulated Egypt for its "successful organisation" adding there was still time before the 2012 Olympic Games in London for the continent to do well. "Good luck to Africa in weightlifting," he said.
President of the AWF Khaled Al-Mohalhl thanked the organising committee for the "high level demonstrated by the championship."

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