Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
12 - 18 November 1998
Issue No.403
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Current issue | Previous issue | Site map

Weighing the prospects

By Eman Abdel Moeti

Mohamed Osman in the 62kg training for a world medal
photo: Mustafa El-Senousi
The 13-member national weightlifting team is currently in Finland for the world weightlifting championships, scheduled from 9 to 15 November. The men have their hopes pinned on local champions Raafat Galal, Mohamed Osman and Ahmed Samir, and have their sights set on sixth place, a position they have landed before. But with 60 countries participating this time, a spot in the top 10 for the second time running would be an even greater achievement. Being only the second time they appear in a world championship, the five-member women's delegation has no world ranking and are simply hoping not to finish too far down the ladder.

Nearly 500 men and women weightlifters are taking part in the seven-day championship, the last this century and the final stop before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. "This is the true test for our players before 2000," Gamil Hanna, head of the African Weightlifting Federation, said. "The outcome will prove how successful our new training technique has been."

The technique, developed by Hanna and Ibrahim Shoukri, president of the Egyptian Federation, concerns strength training based on varying the weights over a certain period until each player settles on his or her ideal training programme. Hanna was scheduled to discuss the system at a scientific seminar entitled "New Training Techniques" held from 8-12 November on the sidelines of the championships.

Egyptian Federation Manager Samir Hanna said many of the team's players had broken their African records after having trained under the new system. "That makes us optimistic about the results in Finland," he said.

The team had applied the system while training in Alexandria and during friendly matches with Syria.

A back injury forced the experienced Tharwat El-Bendari out of the friendlies and the championship. "It is a great loss that El-Bendari is not with us, but in a way it is an incentive to the rest of the team to do their very best," coach Gaber Hafez said.

The men's team is made up of Ali Hamid in the 56 kilogramme weight category, Mohamed Osman in 62, Yousri Shalali and Ahmed Samir in 69, Rafat Galal in 77, Mohamed Moussa and Nasser Adel in 85 and Hani Mahmoud in the over 105 kilogramme division. In the women's team, coached by Reda El-Batuti, Sabrin Kamel and Rabab Ashour are placed in the 53 kilogramme division, Madiha Abdel-Moneim in 63 and Nagwan El-Zawawi in 69. They are accompanied by physical fitness trainer Ebtisam Ali. The team was formed only a year ago and, consequently, had little success in last year's world junior championships.

Samir said that with players like Osman, Galal and Ahmed Samir, a bronze medalist in the junior world championship, "we hope to retain sixth place overall." Samir added that the team's presence in Finland will give them a big boost as they prepare for the 1999 Arab championship in Jordan and the Seventh All-Africa Games in South Africa. The Games are expected to be a landmark affair for Africa since it will mark the first time women will participate. Hanna is to discuss this at a meeting of the African Supreme Council for Sports, to be held from 14 to 21 November.