Young Egyptian weightlifters, their country tainted by a drug scandal they were not involved in, reversed the picture at the 2022 Junior World Weightlifting Championships held in Crete, Greece, from 2-10 May.
Neamat Fahmi took the gold and silver medals in the 71-kg category while teammate Mahmoud Al-Sayed collected two silver medals in the 81-kg category and in the clean and jerk.
Al-Sayed lifted 173 kg in his second attempt, then 182 kg in his last attempt to secure a silver medal, after Georgia’s Saba Asanidze. Kazakhstan’s Denis Poluboyarinov came third.
Fahmi, the 2021 senior world champion of the 64 kg category at the time, faced Olivia Reeves of the US and last year’s junior world champion of the category together with Turkey’s Aysel Ozkan who collected the bronze in the snatch.
Fahmi started at 100 kg while Reeves increased to 103 kg. After that Fahmi heaved 104 kg and Reeves kept her advantage of 1kg. They both went three for three and on 106 kg.
Fahmi won silver but the gold went to Reeves with 107 kg. Fahmi avenged herself in the clean and jerk as she was the most consistent among her three rivals, and with three from three, won the gold medal with 131 kg.
Even though Reeves started at the top she failed in her first two attempts. Her last successful try of 129 kg was only enough for silver.
In the snatch, Mahmoud Gamal won the first gold medal for men. Gamal went 3-from-3 (147-151-154 kg) and with only one kg difference from the two other medalists, collected the gold.
In the clean and jerk, Gamal came third with 339 kg after Ukraine’s Maksym Dombrovoskyi who collected gold with 345 kg and Armenia’s Suren Grigoryan with 340 kg.
In the snatch, Egypt’s Yasser Osama collected the bronze with 157 kg in his first appearance at an international event.
In clean and jerk, Osama made up for his bronze with gold, a 202 kg lift, surprising spectators and even his coaches.
In the snatch, Fatma Ahmed collected the bronze with 99 kg and added another bronze in the clean and jerk, lifting 221 kg.
Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi congratulated the players for the achievement. “Our Olympic champion project has started to flourish giving us a number of champions in different sports and here is weightlifting to start with.” Sobhi also thanked the Military Association for getting a number of world champions and Olympians that will start competing in Paris Olympics 2024 ready.
“I am very happy to win two medals in my first appearance in an international event,” Osama said. “I trained hard and prepared well for such a championship and I am very proud to raise Egypt’s flag twice today. I promise to do my best to win a medal in the coming Olympics Paris 2024.”
In September 2019, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) suspended Egypt from international competition over doping offences committed during the 2016 African Championships and the 2019 All-Africa Games. The ban took effect on 9 September 2019 and ended on 9 September 2021. As a result, Egypt’s weightlifters missed the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Egypt have 14 Olympic weightlifting medals in total, five of them gold.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 May, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.