Meet Sara Ahmed, the first ever Egyptian woman to win an Olympic medal

Mahmoud Elassal , Thursday 11 Aug 2016

Sara Ahmed, who won bronze in the weightlifting, is the first ever Egyptian woman to clinch an Olympic medal

Sara Samir
Egypt's Sara Ahmed poses with her bronze medal on the podium of the Women's 69kg weightlifting competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. (AFP)

On Wednesday Egyptian weightlifter Sara Ahmed Samir created history, becoming the first woman in the country's history to win an Olympic medal when she claimed the women's 65kg bronze in Rio.

"This is such a big honour. All Egypt was waiting for one or two medals from our team," Ahmed told Reuters after her achievement.

The 18-year-old -- who contested the 69kg event -- totalled 255kg after six successful attempts (112 kg in snatch and 143kg in clean & jerk) to give Egypt its first medal at Rio, finishing third behind gold medalist Yanmei Xiang of China (261kg) and silver medalist Zhazira Zhapparkul of Kazakhstan (259kg).

But there's a long story of discipline, determination and enthusiasm behind the teenager's big moment.

Ahmed, who won the gold medal of Youth Olympic Games in China in 2014 in the 63kg event, had skipped her final high schools exams in June in order to finalise her preparations for the Olympics.

"I hope the ministry of education will allow me to get my high school exam here in Brazil after I failed to get it in Egypt due to participation in the Rio Games," she told reporters after winning the medal.

She also spoke about her intense training programme over the past two years to achieve her dream at the Olympics.

"My coach Khaled Kourany is training me well and kept me focused on a medal at Rio," she said just before the Games.

Samir, who grew up in the Ismailia governorate, started weightlifting at the age of ten, under the supervision of her weightlifter brother Mohamed Samir.

"I started weightlifting when I watched my brother Mohamed train," she said.

She joined the military organisation club in Ismailia to kick off her career at the age of 12.

She made such a huge impact that she joined Egypt's senior team at the age of only 14.

"I was the youngest weightlifter in the national team. The national team's coach saw in my a good potential and included me in the senior squad to gain experience despite my young age," Ahmed explained.

At club level she was trained by a Chinese coach that helped her win six gold medals, in the U-17 and U-20 African championships in 2012.

Samir won three gold medals in the U-20 World Championships in Uzbekistan before winning the gold and bronze medal in the 2013 Mediterranean Games in Turkey.

She had her first taste of Olympic gold after winning the 63kg event at the 2014 Youth Olympics in China.

"It was my best moment as I was the only woman to win a gold medal. This competition gave me a lot of confidence and experience," she said at the time.

In 2014 the talented athlete moved onto the senior level, contesting the World Championship, but finished 12 in the overall ranking of the tournament.

She climbed up the rankings in 2015 to finish fourth in the World Championships in Houston, totalling 245 kg (135kg clean and jerk and 110kg snatch).

At Rio she broke her record by 10kg at just 18 years old, and for her fans back home, there is every expectation that she can move up the podium in the coming years.  

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