By Anjali Jacob
Having won the World Junior Championships in June last year, and the Asian Championship title in 2016, not to mention his seventh-place 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 mean 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: “Me and my father 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 in relaxing 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 if all the attention has changed him as a person, he says that his achievements have not changed him negatively, rather it has 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.”