ARMS OF STEEL

QATARTODAY TALKS TO FARES IBRAHIM, THE 19-YEAR-OLD WEIGHTLIFTER WHO HAS TAKEN QATAR SPORTS TO NEW HEIGHTS.

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - BY ANJALI JA­COB

Fares Ibrahim, the 19-year-old weightlift­ing sen­sa­tion, has taken Qatar sports to new heights.

Hav­ing won the World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in June last year, and the Asian Cham­pi­onship ti­tle in 2016, not to men­tion his sev­en­th­place fin­ish at the Rio Olympics, Fares Ibrahim's achieve­ments in the field of weightlift­ing have truly put Qatar on the world map for sports.

Aged 18, he par­tic­i­pated in the 2016 World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships where he won a bronze medal, which helped him to train even harder for the Rio Olympics, held later that year. “See­ing the crowd cheer for you re­ally makes you want to train harder and do bet­ter. En­cour­age­ment from our sup­port­ers means so much to us when it comes to train­ing and stay­ing mo­ti­vated,” says Ibrahim.

Ibrahim started weightlift­ing at a very young age, mainly be­cause of his fam­ily's in­volve­ment. “I started off see­ing my fa­ther and brothers do­ing weightlift­ing and I in­stantly be­came their fan. It was good for me be­cause my fa­ther is also my trainer, so it all runs in the fam­ily.” When asked about his fa­ther's coach­ing dy­nam­ics, he says: “My fa­ther and I work well to­gether. We have a nat­u­ral un­der­stand­ing and he knows ex­actly how to train me, how to con­trol my

work­out, and how to keep me mo­ti­vated every day, be­cause there are no off days dur­ing train­ing.”

With re­gards to com­pet­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, Ibrahim says: “Four years ago I used to train as an am­a­teur around two to three times a week. But my fa­ther saw some po­ten­tial in me and sug­gested that I take it to the next level. And I did. My dream is to win an Olympic medal for Qatar and to hon­our my coun­try. And I'm just get­ting started.”

Af­ter win­ning sil­ver in the 2017 World Cham­pi­onships which took place in De­cem­ber, his next goal is the 2018 Asian Games which is set to take place in Au­gust. Com­ment­ing on his train­ing reg­i­men, he says: “I'm work­ing on the snatch dis­ci­pline in which I am com­par­a­tively weak. By do­ing this I can im­prove fur­ther and this will in­crease my chances of win­ning big in the Games.” Ibrahim says that while weightlift­ing does put a lot of pres­sure and stress on him, he man­ages to de-stress by chang­ing up his rou­tine espe­cially af­ter a long pe­riod of stren­u­ous train­ing. His fa­ther is also a huge fac­tor in keep­ing his spir­its lifted. Fur­ther­more, he says that phys­io­ther­a­pists help to re­lax his body and re­duce stress.

Ibrahim en­joys train­ing and work­ing to­wards a goal. He says: “See­ing my fam­ily's proud faces makes it all worth­while for me and that is my end goal.” Hav­ing such a busy sched­ule has also taken a toll on Ibrahim's so­cial life. “I love train­ing but since I am al­ways work­ing, I feel like my so­cial life has been af­fected since I don't do any­thing out­side of weightlift­ing for the most part. So when I take a break, I like to in­volve my­self in ex­treme sports like sky­div­ing and bungee jump­ing.”

Ibrahim's first ma­jor achieve­ment came in 2014 when he won the Qatar Cup aged only 16. His ca­reer took off af­ter that, which is a well-known fact in the coun­try's sports com­mu­nity. When asked whether all the at­ten­tion has changed him as a per­son, he says that his achieve­ments have not changed him neg­a­tively, rather they have im­proved him in many as­pects.

“I have gained so much more con­fi­dence than be­fore, espe­cially on stage. I've changed my diet and my sleep sched­ule to mould it to my work sched­ule and this has made me more ef­fi­cient in time man­age­ment. In the end I can say that I haven't changed as a per­son, as the peo­ple who I am around like me the way I am, but I have be­come more or­gan­ised in life, which is al­ways a good thing.”

Ibrahim also praises Qatar's ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in the de­vel­op­ment of sports in the Middle East. “I am proud to be a part of Team Qatar. Qatar is al­ways a front run­ner in scout­ing and train­ing new ath­letes, and that is a big ac­com­plish­ment. So, thank you Qatar.”

Ibrahim says that he def­i­nitely sees him­self in­volved with weightlift­ing for a very long time, maybe even af­ter re­tire­ment. His words of ad­vice to fel­low youths and as­pir­ing ath­letes are: “I hope I am an in­spi­ra­tion for them to take up any sport, not just weightlift­ing. I want them to know that they can im­prove them­selves and gain great suc­cess and recog­ni­tion with per­se­ver­ance. Af­ter com­pet­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, I've learned that you can suc­ceed in any­thing you want if you en­joy do­ing it. If you see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand.”

“SEE­ING THE CROWD CHEER FOR YOU RE­ALLY MAKES YOU WANT TO TRAIN HARDER AND DO BET­TER.”

“I HAVEN'T CHANGED AS A PER­SON, AS THE PEO­PLE WHO I AM AROUND LIKE ME THE WAY I AM, BUT I HAVE BE­COME MORE OR­GAN­ISED IN LIFE, WHICH IS AL­WAYS A GOOD THING.”

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