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Guadalajara, Preview: USA’s senior gold medallist Morris aims for more glory at IWF World Junior Championships

Six medallists from this year’s senior IWF World Championships, including one who won gold, are among the 229 final entries for the 2023 World Junior Championships.

The competition in Guadalajara, Mexico starts on Wednesday and runs until November 23. Teams from Costa Rica, Panama and Malta arrived early for a week-long training camp funded jointly – along with their competition entries – by the IWF and Olympic Solidarity.

Hampton Morris (USA)

The senior gold medallist in Guadalajara is Hampton Morris from the United States, who won the youth world title in 2021 and was junior world champion last year at 61kg.

Morris, 19, failed to make a total in Riyadh in September after three snatch failures but came out to set a junior world record in winning the clean and jerk.

This time Morris has moved up to 67kg, where he will be competing against another of those senior World Championships medallists, the Armenian Gor Sahakyan.

Armenia appears to have one of the strongest teams in Guadalajara, alongside Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine and the only two with the maximum entry of 20 athletes, Mexico and the United States.

Three of the highest entry totals in the 10 men’s categories are posted by Armenians, and their women have medal chances too.

Like Sahakyan, Garik Karapetyan won a medal in Riyadh. Karapetyan holds all three junior world records at 102kg and is aiming to win a third straight junior world title.

Garik Karapetyan (ARM)

Egypt has contenders in a range of men’s and women’s categories. They include Mahmoud Hosny, a senior bronze medallist in September, in the men’s 96kg and 17-year-old Rahma Ahmed, who has won gold and silver in the past two World Youth Championships, in the women’s 81kg.

Cansu Bektas from Turkey, also a medallist in Riyadh, has already won youth and junior world titles and is a strong favourite to win again in the women’s 45kg.

Ukraine has several medal hopes, led by Mykyta Rubanovskyi and Volodymyr Marchuk in the men’s 109kg, Olha Ivzhenko in the women’s 64kg and Svitlana Samuliak in the women’s 59kg.

Samuliak, twice a European junior champion, began her career as a 14-year-old more than six years ago. Her main rival is likely to be the “newcomer” Eduarda Souza, a Brazilian who moved to Portugal and has excelled in CrossFit.

Souza makes her third international weightlifting appearance in three months. The popular Brazilian finished 17th at the senior World Championships on her debut, and eighth at the Pan American Games. In her first junior competition she has the same entry total of 215kg as Samuliak.

Other strong contenders from Latin America include Kerlys Montilla, a multiple youth and junior champion from Venezuela, in the women’s 49kg, Kelin Jimenez from Ecuador in the women’s 76kg, and Elizabeth Reyes from Cuba, a silver medallist in last year’s World Juniors, at 87kg.

The top hopes for the host nation will be two silver medallists from last year’s world juniors – Mariana Garcia in the women’s 71kg and José Poox in the men’s 55kg.

Poox has a very good chance of winning on the first day in Guadalajara, having moved down from 61kg to 55kg, while Naomi Montes could make the podium in the opening session, the women’s 45kg.

Two athletes are trying for an age-group “double” in the juniors, having won youth world titles in Albania in March. The 17-year-olds Phattharathida Wongsing from Thailand and Ella Nicholson from the United States lift at 71kg and 76kg respectively, and both look capable of winning medals in Mexico.

By Brian Oliver