Weightlifter El-Bakh becomes Qatar’s first Olympic champion, setting records in the process

El-Bakh, 23, won in style as he registered a new Olympic record with a total of 402kg with a 177kg snatch and a 225kg clean and jerk which was also an Olympic record.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Men's 96kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Fares Ibrahim Elbakh of Qatar in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Men's 96kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Fares Ibrahim Elbakh of Qatar in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Qatar claimed the first Olympic gold medal in their history as weightlifter Fares Ibrahim El-Bakh was the hero at the Tokyo International Forum on Saturday.

Qatar’s Olympic medal haul consisted of one silver in athletics, one weightlifting bronze, two athletics bronze medals and one shooting bronze until today’s success in the men’s 96kg category.

The Asian Championship silver medalist has Egyptian descent from his father Ibrahim Hassouna who represented Egypt in weightlifting at the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

El-Bakh, 23, won in style as he registered a new Olympic record with a total of 402kg with a 177kg snatch and a 225kg clean and jerk which was also an Olympic record.

“I feel great, incredible,” said the history-making gold medalist.

“We worked hard for it. We went so far to get this and it feels better than ever.”

“We worked more on the clean and jerk. We were confident about it. We had great competitors so we had to go hard for it and make sure we win.”

El-Bakh said that the one-year postponement of Tokyo 2020 actually helped his performance.

“The year delay gave us the opportunity to train more. We had a few training camps which prepared us for this event and got us ready for and surprise from any other lifters. We had good preparation for the conditions.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Men's 96kg - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Gold medalist Fares Ibrahim Elbakh of Qatar reacts. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Men's 96kg - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Gold medalist Fares Ibrahim Elbakh of Qatar reacts. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

El-Bakh can expect to arrive home to immense fanfare as Qatar’s new national hero.

“I hope so. I am literally speechless about that. 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.”

Silver was won by Venezuela’s Keydomar Giovanni Vallenilla Sanchez while Georgian Anton Pliesnoi earned bronze.

In the men’s 81kg category the standout performers in the weightlifting competition, China, were on song as Lyu Xiaojun posted three new Olympics records.

The 37-year-old lifted 170kg in the snatch and 204kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 374kg and all three figures broke the Olympic records as the Chinese competitor become the oldest weightlifting gold medalist in Olympic history.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Men's 81kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Xiaojun Lyu of China in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Men's 81kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Xiaojun Lyu of China in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Lyu said: “Weightlifting is my lifetime career. My family is part of my life, and weightlifting is another part of my life. I really loved this weightlifting competition, and weightlifting itself. I think it is a beautiful art, that’s maybe why I can take part for such a long time.

“Five years is a long time at this age. I’m really grateful that we can still have the competition, and the Tokyo Olympics were still on, so I finally had a chance to prove myself.

“Winning a gold medal for China is also meaningful as this is the 100th birthday for the Chinese Communist Party.”

Lyu plans to continue competing and has hopes of continuing until Paris 2024.

“This is not my last competition. Next year you may also see me at the world championships, so I may build a new legacy. If you see me next year, you will see me in Paris (2024).”

Silver went to the Dominican Republic’s Zacarias Bonnat Michel while Antonino Pizzolato took bronze for Italy.

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