By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Having gone in as hot favourite, Fares Ibrahim knew all eyes would be on him. The weightlifter was carrying the burden of ending Qatar’s gold medal drought at the Olympics. Yet, the pressure of expectations seemed to weigh lightly on his broad shoulders.
When the 23-year-old attempted his first lift of 217kg in clean and jerk in the men’s 96kg category at the Tokyo International Forum, all his competitors had wrapped up their three maximum lifts. For the Qatari, it took just his first attempt to pocket the gold to become Qatar’s first ever Olympic Champion.
Fares exploded with emotion after creating history even as the Qatari contingent, including Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, went delirious.
With mission accomplished, Fares returned to claim an Olympic record with his next lift of 225kg. He then attempted a world record 232kg but did not get the bar above waist height. Fares, who had lifted 177kg in the snatch, also set a new Games mark with a total of 402 in a dominant performance.
“I feel great, incredible. We worked hard for it. We went so far to get this and it feels better than ever,” Fares said after collecting his gold medal as he celebrated with his father, who is also his coach.
“I’m very honoured to have won a gold medal during this Olympic. I hope that my performance was all right during these Games. I am literally speechless about that [getting the first gold for Qatar]. I hope that they are proud of me. I promise this is not the end, we still have more and more coming soon. We will do our best to make it even better,” he added.
Fares’ father Ibrahim, a former weightlifter himself having competed at four Olympics in 1984, 1988, and 1992, was delighted with his son’s historic achievement. Fares began weightlifting under his father’s advise at age nine and continues to train under him.
“I did not doubt for a moment that Faris would not achieve this feat. Since the Rio Olympics, he trained really hard and long. I was nervous in some periods, especially with the intensity of the competition, but I did not show that to Faris so that he does not lose confidence,” Ibrahim said.
At Rio 2016, Fares finished seventh as an 18-year-old. But in Tokyo he was a strong favourite after China decided not to select Tian Tao and the Iranian Sohrab Moradi failed to qualify because of injury. Between them, Tian and Moradi hold all three world records and their absence made this the only men’s event in Tokyo without a current world record holder in the field.
Meanwhile, HE the Minister of Culture and Sports Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali congratulated His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, the Qatar Olympic Committee headed by HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani and the Qatari people on Qatar winning the first Olympic gold medal.
He said this represents a new sporting achievement and a natural extension of the accomplishments made by Qatari sport over the past decades.
Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani congratulates Fares Ibrahim after his historic feat at the Tokyo International Forum yesterday.
Fares celebrates with his father Ibrahim, who is also his coach, after winning the gold.
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