File photo: Mohamed Ihab, of Egypt, celebrates after a lift. Ihab is among the squad that was supposed to participate in the 2019 IWF World Championships (Photo: AP)
Egypt's most decorated weightlifter of all time, Mohamed Ihab, announced his retirement on Tuesday after losing hope of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, following the recent suspension of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation.
"Yes, I decided to retire from weightlifting, thanks be to God," Ihab told Ahram Online, without giving further details.
On 18 September, Egypt's Olympics committee revealed that the country has been banned from participating in all activities of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) for two years over an old doping case.
The ban relates to an incident in 2016 when seven Egyptian players failed doping tests during the 2016 Youth African Championships, held in Cairo.
In the wake of the ban, Egypt's participation in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has fallen into doubt, but the country's Olympic committee vowed to do its best and take all possible legal action to resolve the problem.
"I decided to retire after Egypt's recent ban. My target was to achieve a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, but it is difficult to lift the ban," Ihab, who secured the bronze medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, told Egyptian sports website Filgoal.com on Tuesday.
"There is no reason to continue my career. It isn't our fault. If a miracle happens and the ban is lifted, I will return immediately.
"I will concentrate on completing my masters and I will begin my coaching career," he added.
Retirment after glorious year
Despite facing many difficulties to find support and sponsors throughout his career, the 29-year-old Ihab proved himself as the best ever weightlifter in Egypt's history, especially after his glorious achievements in 2018.
Ihab won three medals and finished second at the World Weightlifting Championships in Ashgabat in November, just 1kg behind gold medalist Lü Xiaojun of China.
He won gold, bronze and silver medals at the prestigious tournament. He clinched gold in the men's 81kg category; setting a new world record in the snatch after lifting 173kg, 3kg more than the world record. He also won bronze after lifting 200kg in clean and jerk and silver after lifting a total of 373kg in the 81kg category.
He has become Egypt's most decorated weightlifter with four gold medals, ahead of Nahla Ramadan and the late Khedr El-Touni, who won three world medals each.
How Ihab became a professional weightlifter?
Ihab started practicing weightlifting when he was only eight years in Fayoum, south of Cairo. He joined the national weightlifting team in 2007.
When he was 15 years, he competed in the 56kg weight category.
"I broke the Egyptian record after lifting 338kg in the 56 kg weight class, which qualified me to participate in the IWF Junior World Weightlifting Championship in Prague, Czech Republic 2007," he said. Ihab finished fifth with a total lift of 238kg.
All in all, Ihab won 35 gold, 8 silver and 5 bronze medals in his glittering career.
The haul includes 11 medals at the IWF senior world championships, an Olympic bronzed medal at the 2016 Rio Games and 9 gold medals in African championships.
His most memorable one was the Olympic medal, which he clinched in 2016 after lifting 165kg in the snatch and 196kg in the clean and jerk to achieve a total of 361kg in the 77kg weight category. Ihab came in third after Kazakhstan's Nijat Rahimov and Chinese Lu Xiaojun.
Ihab also finished 2016 in fourth place in the world rankings for the 77kg category.
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