Al-Ahram Weekly Online   30 October - 5 November 2008
Issue No. 920
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

A pot of weightlifting gold

Egyptian weightlifters collected a whopping 88 medals in Benghazi. Ghada Abdel-Kader reports

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Egypt pocketed 75 gold, seven silver and six bronze medals in four Arab championships.

The tournaments included men and women, juniors U-20 and youths U-17.

The championships were divided into seniors for men and women, junior men and women under 20 and juniors of both sexes under 17. Held in Benghazi, Libya, took place from 12 to 18 October. The participants were Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Qatar and Thailand in addition to the host nation.

"The federation stopped participating in the Arab championships for three years. We were busy preparing for the Olympic Games in Beijing," the secretary-general of the Arab Weightlifting Union Fathi Zoreik said.

"It served as training for all the weightlifters especially the new junior team (under 20) who were participating for the first time," added Zoreik.

The Omar Al-Mokhtar international tournament for men, the oldest and most prestigious of the lot, was held after an absence of 21 years. The first edition of the tournament took place in 1980 in honour of Omar Mokhtar (1862-1931), the hero of the Libyan resistance against the Italians.

In the tournament, Libya won first place with 134 total points. Syria came in second with 129 points and Egypt third with 124 points.

"Our senior weightlifters who went to Beijing are recovering. They were exhausted physically and mentally. They need relaxation and rest for two months," Zoreik said.

Libyan Mohamed Ali Ichtioui and Egyptian Abeer Khalil were named the best lifters in the competitions.

The federation's agenda is full of upcoming tournaments: the African junior championship, the Mediterranean Games and world junior championship, all in 2009.

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