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Qatari weightlifter Fares ready for maiden Games appearance in Rio

Qatari lifter Fares Ibrahim in action recently. He will make his maiden Olympic Games appearance next month in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: QOC)
by Qatar Olympic Committee
DOHA, July 18, 2016 - Qatari teen sensation Fares Ibrahim is brimming with confidence as he prepares to compete at the weightlifting competition at next month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The 18-year-old qualified for the 2016 Summer Games by clinching the bronze medal at the IWF Junior World Championships in two categories in Georgia earlier this month.

Trained and coached by father Ibrahim Hassouna from the age of 10, Fares is counting days before he leaves for Rio on August 2. The Games start on August 5.

"Am a little nervous before the event," Fares said with a smile on Sunday. "But I am sure when I reach Rio, I will be okay. My fears will disappear then. I will be training here in Doha until August 1," he said.

"My target is to be in the top-six at first and and then take it from there. I want to be in top bracket of lifters. I am being realistic. It is not easy to compete against the seniors as I am fairly young," Fares said

Fares said his maiden appearance at the Olympic Games will give him the experience he desperately seeks.

"By participating at the Games, it will help me for sure. Surely at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo I will go for gold," Fares said.

"This (the Games in Rio) will prepare me for the future. It is not easy to be competing against the seniors. I am just 18. But I feel I can do it. I lifted 201kgs in the qualifying event. I can add 4 more kilos," he said with a huge grin on his face.

Fares said he follows a strict diet plan laid out by father and coach Hassouna.

"I eat as per strict routine. I have to have good meals every day. When I get up, I can't just eat a croissant or two. I have to eat a proper meal full of protein, carbohydrates to help my body recover from competitions. I also need dietary supplements that are allowed," he said.

Ranked third in the world in the Under-20 class, Fares's best digits are 201kg in clean and jerk class while scaling 155kgs in the snatch class.

Fares broke the world record by lifting 184kgs in the clean and jerk event at age 16.

Coach and father Hassouna is only please to see his son do well.

"Fares' qualification has come really at the last minute. He truly deserves the support," Hassouna said.

"The (coach and athlete) relationship at the beginning was tough. At first I had to wake him up to get into the training mode. Now Fares is doing exactly what I tell him to do. We eat and sleep and train at the same time," he said with a smile.

"Our relationship is that of friends. Am not just his father, am his coach as well. I have been coaching since he was 10 years old," Hassouna said.

The General Secretary of the Asian and Arab Weightlifting Federations (QWF) Mohamed Hassan Jaloud said: "Going to Rio is the dream of any athlete in Qatar. Especially for somebody as young as Fares. Usually in weightlifting you see older athletes with experience. In Fares, we have a young, energetic lifter."

He added: "During the Olympics, we are confident of a good show by Fares. During the last months, he has done amazingly well. He is aiming to be in the top six in his class at Rio.

"He's going to be a star in the future. He is just 18. He can be a force because he is young with determination to do well. I am a fan of Fares. He is immensely promising.

"The QOC had requested a wildcard for Fares but he did it the hard way. He did well at the qualifying event. He doesn't need a wildcard. Fares qualified himself.

"Fares has been training heavily for the last three years and according to a schedule. Sometimes he trains 15 or 20 times each day. He has won many medals for Qatar this year. Two in the worlds, two in Asia and then two in the qualifying event.

"He is looking at another three when he goes to Tokyo in November. It will be a dream to get three more medals."

Fares was quick to thank his mentors.

"I thank Mr Jaloud for his encouraging words. It has been a long journey. We are the end of it. We will appear at the Games in good shape - a condition that would make Qatar proud with a good show," Fares said.

"I give special thanks to Mr Mohamed Yousef Al Mana who had a meeting with my coach about how they will support me in Brazil and later on as well. Mr Al Mana also said they would be supporting me next year so that I could go chase my dreams.

"The QOC is supporting me at this time as well. I would like to thank QOC President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani and Secretary General of QOC Dr Thani Al Kuwari for their support.

"I would take this opportunity to thank Aspetar as they also chipped in to help me at various levels," he said.

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