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Sara Samir (EGY): “It was quite an easy competition!”

At 25, Sara Samir is a hero in her country. In 2016, at the Rio Olympics, she became the first-ever woman from Egypt to win a Games’ medal (in any sport), the bronze in the 69kg, with a total of 255kg. Accessorily, she was also the first Arab woman to get a weightlifting medal in the greatest sports event on the planet. Since then, she continued medalling at weightlifting major rendezvous: after a silver at the 2018 IWF World Championships, she finally gets the supreme consecration – the gold – at the 2022 IWF showcase, where she lifted 261kg in the 76kg.

Today, in Riyadh, in the same category, a very relaxed Samir did probably one of the most efficient competitions in her career. With high entries in both snatch and clean and jerk, she patiently awaited the developments of her closest contenders. The strategy paid off, with a first successful snatch at 108kg (gold), then withdrawal from the last two attempts, and exactly the same thing in the clean and jerk – one good first lift at 138kg (also the best of the field), and then nothing. In the end, a winning total of 246kg was largely sufficient for the overall title.

“It was a very easy competition for me! All went well and I didn’t have to make so much effort to get the gold,” admitted a smiling Samir after the medal ceremony. “This second consecutive title is the best possible appetizer towards my qualification to the Olympic Games, next year in Paris,” continued the Egyptian star.

Looking at the Olympic Qualification Ranking, Samir is the second best in the 81kg, the bodyweight category that is part of the Games’ programme. In Riyadh, this competition will take place this Friday, but her 268kg achieved at the 2023 African Championships should guarantee a ticket for the French rendezvous. Only Liang Xiaomei (CHN) is better, with a 275kg effort achieved at this year’s Asian Championships. “I have more competitions until Paris, namely the 2024 African Champs, but also the IWF World Cup in Thailand,” admitted the two-time world champion.

Cautious when asked about predictions for the Games, she just confesses that all the “indications so far are very positive”. However, for the record, this was her worst total since 2018, when she still competed at junior level. Since then, she has always lifted more than 250kg.

Sara Samir was brought to weightlifting by her father and older brother, both connected to the sport. She started competing in 2010 (at the age of 12), and her first international result was registered in 2012, at the African Junior Championships – at the time, she already got the gold in the 63kg, with a total of 215kg.

Tomorrow, for the A session of the 81kg, she will be naturally attentive to the performance of her main rivals in the Olympic ranking: Liang, but also Solfrid Koanda (NOR, third in 266kg), Tamara Salazar (ECU, fourth in 265kg), Yudelina Mejia (DOM, eight in 252kg), Mattie Rogers (USA, ninth in 248kg), and Laura Nascimento Amaro, from Brazil, closing the top-10 at 247kg.

By Pedro Adrega, IWF Communications

Photos by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia