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Eyeing weightlifting golds
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 16 - 03 - 2010

With sights set on the Youth Olympic Games, due to be held in Singapore in August, Egypt's national weightlifting team are putting the final touches to their preparation for the African Junior and Youth Championships, due to be held in Cairo on March 19-26.
"We are ready for this tough competition," Mahmoud Shokri, the President of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation, told the Egyptian Mail. For him, the championships have a double significance.
"Firstly, as for the Youth Championship, the federation is hoping that our weightlifters will, via this tournament, qualify for the Youth Olympic Games, due to be held in Singapore on August 14-26 ."
According to the regulations, only the three best weightlifters in the Youth Championship will qualify for the Olympic Games. "We are going to try our best to qualify," Shokri stresses.
Egypt's weightlifters achieved the following placings in Beijing in 2008: Mohamed Ibrahim finished eighth; Tareq Yehia 11th; Mohamed Zaki 12th; and Abdel-Rahman Mohamed 16th, while Abeer Abdel-Rahman was the closest to a medal, coming fifth in the women's competition.
Shokri added that there were more Egyptians that could prove themselves in these championships.
"Secondly, as for the Junior Championship, we're not only out to prove that our weightlifters are the best on the Black Continent, but we're going all out for international glory,” he says.
"The championships this year will witness the participation of at least 17 countries, with 170 weightlifters, 33 of them from Egypt."
The participating countries include Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Mali, Namibia, Mauritius and hosts country Egypt.
The stiffest competition for Egypt will come from Tunisia, Libya, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria and South Africa.
Shokri is positive that the Pharaohs will win. "We are ready and we're determined to retain the title, despite the amazing progress that has been made in this sport on the African continent," he comments, promising that the Egyptian fans will do their best to snatch the title and as many medals as possible.
Egypt won the title and the gold medal at the Seventh African Weightlifting Championship held in Uganda last year, grabbing 49 different medals.
"The African Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships this time are really something special for us, as it's the first time for Egypt to organise these championships for 12 years," Shokri explains.
Weightlifting is a perfect demonstration of physical strength, technical skill and concentration combined.
Weightlifters compete individually in a competition that requires physical and mental preparedness and eventually tactical skills.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) recognises two lifts, which must be executed in the following sequence: the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.
Weightlifting is the only sport with world championships spanning three centuries.
According to Shokri, Dr Tam?s Aj?n, the President of the IWF; Khaled el-Mohalhel, the President of the African Weightlifting Federation (AWF); and Mohamed Ali, the President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC), will top the VIPs at the opening ceremony of the championships.
The national team for men have been finishing their training at the Olympic Centre in Maadi, while the women's team have been training hard at Ras el-Barr near Damietta.
Egypt will enter four teams, two for youth and two for juniors, in the championships.
The men's youth team include Abdel-Rahman Emad (56kg), Moustafa Atef (62kg), Maged Gouda (69kg), Osama Abul Yazeed, Magdi el-Ghemasi and Abdullah Abdel-Salam (77kg), Mohamed Sedqi (85kg), Mohamed Ramadan (94kg) and Hassan Reda (94kg).
Meanwhile, the women's youth team include Alaa Zaki (44kg), Lamia Abul Hassan (48kg), Nahed Salah and Basma Emad (53kg), Shaimaa Gamal, Amal Mohamed (58kg) and Israa Fahmi (69kg).
The men's junior team include Mohamed Abdel-Fattah (56kg), Mohamed Abdel-Salam (62kg), Amr Ahmed (69kg), Osama Abul Yazeed (77 kg), Ragab Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy (85kg), Islam Aboul Soauad (94kg) and Hassan Reda (105kg).
Meanwhile, the women's junior team comprise Basma Gouda (53kg), Dina Mohamed and Amal Ali (58kg), Sarah Ali and Shaimaa Mohamed (63kg), Amani Youssri (69kg) and Abeer Abdel-Rahman (75kg).
The board and chairman of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation (EWF) have come up with a plan to boost the country's international reputation in this strenuous sport.
"Our short-term aim is to win an Olympic medal," says Shokri, adding that Egypt have a great history in weightlifting. At one time, Egypt were the world's top weightlifting nation, but things have changed.
Shokri has the greatest respect for Hassan Saqr, the Chairman of the governmental National Sports Council (NSC), who is very supportive of weightlifting.
The NSC's support extends to financing preparation camps for the national teams participating in any championships.
"The federation wants to expand the game all over Egypt," Shokri, who is also the Vice-President of the AWF, added.
"We need to discover more promising athletes nationwide and prepare them for national and international championships and the Olympic Games."
Weightlifting requires a combination of power, technique, flexibility and consistency, say experts. A weightlifter's strength comes primarily from the legs, and secondarily from the back and shoulders, they explain.
Weightlifting was popular in both the ancient Egyptian and Greek societies.
The first world championships were staged in March 1891, in London, with seven athletes representing six countries.
Shokri explains that the federation is giving top priority to promoting interest in this sport in youth centres all over Egypt, in order to develop and boost the number of promising young athletes.
"In fact, more than 80 clubs already offer weightlifting," explained Shokri, who is a member of the EOC, adding that the federation wants to increase this number.
"The purpose is to have a wide base of talented weightlifters all over the country to choose from to represent Egypt in national and international championships."
Although Egyptian weightlifters were in good shape before the 2008 Olympic Games held in China, they left Beijing empty-handed, without a single gong, to the disbelief and disappointment of their fans.
Shokri remarks that there are around 3,000 weightlifters from 20 regions, registered at the Egyptian Federation.
"We want to increase this to 10,000 in the coming four years," points out Shokri, adding that the best age to start weightlifting is at ten and then to retire at the age of 30.
The IWF, which comprises 167 affiliated countries, recently reported that approximately 11,000 weightlifters participated annually in official competitions.
The report added that weight training was an indispensable tool for strength development for all sports and billions of people all over the world work out with the barbell for the sake of fitness.
Although weightlifting is a sport that can be traced back to the earliest of the Olympic Games, it is only in the post-World War II years that it has been given prominence in the national press of this country.
Modern weightlifting really began in 1920, when the Seventh Olympic Games were held in Antwerp, Belgium. And, although the world was still feeling the effects of the World War I, no fewer than 14 nations sent athletes to compete for Olympic weightlifting titles.
Shokri contends that Egyptian weightlifters must be aware of modern techniques.
"We must do all we can to prepare our weightlifters for the forthcoming event, if we want them to do us proud and reach international level," Shokri stresses.
At the World Junior Championships, held in Colombia in 2008, Egypt's weightlifter Mohamed Ihab grabbed two bronzes and one silver and Ibrahim Ramadan two golds and one silver.
Meanwhile, Abdel-Rahman Mohamed came first among Egypt's men with three gold medals, and Abeer Abdel-Rahman first among Egypt's women with two golds and one silver.

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