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Double gold for Arab nations: ‘Now come on Morocco’ says Elbakh

By Brian Oliver

Fares ELBAKH (QAT) and Sara Samir AHMED (EGY) both won a world title for the first time on a good day for Arab nations at the IWF World Championships.

Samir won the women’s 76kg and Elbakh the men’s 102kg, after which he said, “It’s a good omen for Arab nations, now we want Morocco to win as well.”

Morocco play France in the World Cup semi-finals today (Wednesday) in Qatar, Elbakh’s home nation. “I’ve been following it on TV and I’ve got my VVIP ticket sorted for the final on Sunday,” he said.

‘I’m hoping it will be Morocco but if France beat them I’ll be cheering for Argentina in the final.”

Samir, though, will not be cheering for anybody. “I don’t like football,” she said.

There were six medallists in the men’s 102kg, in which Artyom ANTROPOV (KAZ) gained nine places after finishing 15th in the snatch and came within one missed lift of a medal on total.

His 163kg would not have made the top four in the B Group, and his best clean and jerk was 59kg higher at 222kg – good enough for gold. In a very tight finish Antropov was sixth after failing at 227kg.

Elbakh, who declined his last two attempts as he had already won, finished on 174-217-391. As in the Asian Championships in October, Elbakh – the Olympic champion at 96kg – posted a lower total than Lesman PAREDES (BRN), despite competing in a heavier weight category.

The two are friends are expected to face each other in the 102kg category at Paris 2024, and Elbakh said it will be “a case of he who laughs last”.

There was only 3kg between first place and sixth in the snatch, where the medals  went to Reza DEHDAR (IRI) on 177kg, Marcos RUIZ (ESP) on 176kg, and Samvel GASPARYAN (ARM)  on 175kg.

In the clean and jerk Antropov won gold, Elbakh was second on 217kg with his only lift, and Bekdoolot RASULBEKOV (KGZ) took bronze, also on 217kg.

On total it was Elbakh first,  Dehdar second on 177-213-390 and Gasparyan third on 175-214-389.

Samir, who became the first woman from an Arab nation to win an Olympic weightlifting medal in 2016, when she was third at 69kg, wants the big one in 2024.

“I was very pleased with my performance today – now I want the gold medal in Paris,” she said.

Samir won the African title in October at 81kg, and cut weight to win at 76kg category here on 113-148-261, the same total that won her the African title. Now she will go back up to 81kg for her next competition, which is expected to be the African Championships in Tunis in May.

All the top three, Samir, Mattie ROGERS (USA) and KIM Suhyeon (KOR), enjoyed themselves and it showed in a lively medal ceremony.

“We all had fun today, and we’re a happy group here… especially her,” said Rogers, pointing to Kim, who had been in tears after her medal-winning final lift before beaming as she left the platform.

Kim had failed to make a total at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year but this time she made four from six for 108-137-245.

Rogers had a sweep of silvers on 109-138-247, and the snatch bronze went to Bella Paredes of Ecuador, with Kim fourth.