Fares Elbakh is Qatar's champion weightlifter who just made history by becoming the first Qatari to ever win a gold medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a record-breaking combined lift of 402 kg. Also, known as Meso, Fares is 23 years old (his birthday is on 4 June), and he's been weightlifting since he was nine years old under his father Ibrahim Hassouna's instruction.
This full-time professional weightlifting athlete from Qatar is currently studying business at the University of Georgia. He's also a two times Junior World Championship Gold medallist, three times Senior Championship Silver medallist and two times World Best Junior Lifter, and he aims to win more medals in the future.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team is bringing you an exclusive Q&A with Fares, who is already training for his next championship!
Fares: Words cannot describe my feelings or how I felt at that moment. It was an indescribable feeling to make my team, family and country proud. I truly wanted to share this moment with everyone in Qatar.
Fares: I knew this was a big moment for me, my team and my country. I have been working and training very hard to make history and bring the first gold medal back home for Qatar. And I believed that nothing will stop me as I felt everyone’s presence in my heart supporting me all the way from home. Bringing the first Olympic Gold medal for Qatar was a dream come true.
Fares: I started to train when I turned 9 under the supervision of my father who’s my current coach too. The reason why I started is because this sport was in my family for generations. You could say weightlifting is in our blood.
Fares: Gymnastics and Equestrian.
Fares: My father, who used to compete professionally in weightlifting and has represented Egypt during the Olympic Games in 1984, 1988 and 1992.
Fares: A weightlifter can lift over two times their body weight.
Fares: Everyone has raw power, but patience and consistency are key.
Fares: There are many that have inspired me, such as my dad, or the great Russian writer and author Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Fares: Knowing that a lot of people support me and are waiting for greater achievements.
Fares: Having my family’s love and faith in me and having my team supporting me throughout my career.
Fares: I get to train and compete with my father and brother by my side.
Fares: There’s no secret. Just hard work and consistency. Training day in and day out, every single day. Believing in yourself and in your coach and having trust in the team.
Fares: I truly love animals.
Fares: Reading, equestrian and going on adventures.
Fares: I love travelling to South America.
Fares: My favourite food is steak because most of the time when I'm training or preparing for a competition, I eat home food that doesn't contain any oil, salt, spices, etc. which is specific to my diet and supports my body in recovery.
Fares: Our plan and focus now is to win the world championships happening in Uzbekistan at the end of December this year. And I'm looking forward to the next Olympics happening in Paris to win and break the world and Olympic record for the snatch, clean and jerk and total.
Fares: Truly from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I am grateful and overwhelmed by your support. Your love and belief will keep me going to achieve greater things for my country.
Cover image credit: QOC; Image provided by Fares ElBakh
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