Mohamed Ihab delivering his speech at the ceremony (Photo: Ayman Hafez)
Egyptian Olympic champion Mohamed Ihab managed to win a bronze medal despite making the "impossible" decision to change weight categories just a year before the Rio de Janeiro tournament, while revealing his hopes of claiming gold in 2020.
In a ceremony to honour Egypt's Olympic medallists organised by Al-Ahram institution, Ihab – who won a medal in the 77kg event - spoke of his bumpy road en route to the achievement, paying tribute to his late father for his support.
"My father was ready to sacrifice everything for me to become an Olympic champion," a deeply-affected Ihab, 26, said as he remembered his father.
"It was not easy at all; as soon as I arrived from school, I used to rush into the kitchen to eat before heading to my training in my hometown Fayoum.
"I even faced the prospect of shunning education for the sake of weightlifting, which my Dad saw was indispensible for me.
"However, my father believed that an educated athlete is much better than an uneducated one, that's why I entered faculty of physical education, the weightlifting section – my specialty.
"And it was in my second university year when he died. I was at that time away at an international tournament.
"He used to tell me that no matter what your achievements as a weightlifter, only an Olympic medal would draw people's attention to you.
"That's why I looked extremely affected after winning the medal; I did promise to win a medal in the Olympics, a vow that I eventually managed to live up to.
"I did really go through a lot during those past four years and had to endure so many disappointments, but my decision to change my weight just a year before the Rio de Janeiro tournament amounted to a mission impossible.
"I'm really happy that I made my mother proud of me with the medal; she needed something to relieve her a bit following the death of my father and recently my brother.
"I just hope I'll be able to win a gold medal at the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo."
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