Weightlifting: Egypt back to its first world championship after two-year ban

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Monday 6 Dec 2021

After an almost two-year suspension for doping, Egyptian weightlifting is back in action at the 2021 world championships, which is scheduled to kick off on Tuesday and last until 17 December in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

File Photo: Egyptian weightlifter Mohamed Ihab.

The ban was over doping offences committed during the 2016 African Championships and the 2019 All-African Games. The ban took effect on 9 September 2019 and ended on 9 September 2021.

"Although the suspension was lifted in September, we did not expect to participate in the World Championships as the country did not pay the whole fine," Egypt’s weightlifting team coach Mohamed Osman told a TV program on Friday.

On Thursday, Egypt's Weightlifting Federation announced a squad of seven members who will be participating at the prestigious tournament in Tashkent after both the sports ministry and the Egyptian Olympic Committee managed to resolve the fine issue.

The men's team is comprised of Mohamed Ihab (81kg category), Karim Khala (89kg), Ahmed Ashour (96kg), and Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Gabr (+109kg). Promising junior weightlifter Abdallah Galal (96kg) is also part of the team.

The women's team is composed only of Halima Abdel-Azim (+87kg) and Neama Said (63kg), as Sara Samir was excluded from the squad due to suspension.

Samir, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, was one of the five Egyptian weightlifters suspended after consecutive positive drug tests for banned substances during the 2016 African Championships and the all-African Games in Morocco 2019.

"We started the preparation camp in March and we informed the international federation of the participating players. None of our weightlifters have tested positive in doping tests during the past two years," the Egypt coach added.

With the country having big favourites to win new medals, like 2016 Olympics bronze medallists Mohaamed Ihab and Sara Samir, Egypt was dealt a huge blow after missing last summer's Tokyo Olympic Games due to the ban.

Directly following the ban, Egypt's prominent weightlifter Ihab announced his retirement after losing hope of appearing in the Olympics, before reversing his decision a month later.

The 32-year-old is one of Egypt's best ever weightlifters, having won an Olympic bronze medal, a World Championship gold in 2017 and three silver world medals.

His most memorable achievement 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.

Now, the country's weightlifters will have a chance to prove themselves again in the World Championships.

Egypt's first appearance at the World Championships will be on 12 December with the participation of Ihab and Neama on their events, while Khala will play a day later.

Abdallah Galal and Ahmed Ashour will kick off their events on 14 December, while Halima and Ahmed Gaber will be in action on 17 December.

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