The first Palestinian weightlifter from Gaza, Mohammed Hamadeh, said he aims to make history in the top ten when he makes history as the first Palestinian to compete in the sport at the Olympic Games that start in Tokyo later this month.
The 19-year-old left Gaza several weeks ago to ensure he would have no problems traveling to attend the games where he booked his place after participating in six international qualifying competitions since 2019.
“When I get to Tokyo, I will do the impossible and do my best to be special,” Hamada told Reuters in Doha, Qatar, where he trains five hours a day.
He added, “I cannot describe the feeling of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.”
Last May, he finished seventh at the Asian Championships and eighth at the World Championships in Uzbekistan for under-20 athletes.
The first Palestinian weightlifter in the Olympics
“I hope to set a new personal record … and be in the top ten,” said Hamada, who heads to Japan on July 20, three days before the games are due to start.
Hamada and his brother Husam, who is also the coach of the Palestine weightlifting team, did not want to take any risks and headed to Doha.
“This is the first Palestinian participation in history in weightlifting,” Husam said. “Training is a complex process, and being my brother athlete made it easier for me.”
He said that Palestinian athletes suffer from a lack of well-equipped clubs, proper training tools and more international participation in competitions outside their territories.
Achievement regardless of winning
Asad Al-Majdalawi, vice president of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, said that Hamada’s participation was an achievement, regardless of whether he won a medal.
“It is a legendary event that Muhammad Hamada, an ambitious and young Palestinian hero from Gaza, who witnessed wars and sieges, is in Tokyo waving the Palestinian flag and competing against world champions,” he said.
Majdalawi said four other Palestinian athletes from Gaza, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem will compete in the Games.
“We are looking forward to writing a Palestinian record in the Olympic competitions, regardless of this record,” he told Reuters.
At Hamada’s home in Gaza City, his parents proudly displayed several gold, silver and bronze medals.
His father, Khamis, said: “Mohammed has achieved our dream, a dream we have been waiting for so long.” “I am satisfied… I am proud of Mohamed and Hossam. We have arrived in Tokyo.”
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