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Weightlifting: Iranian women target Olympic gold

• As Basami makes history at IWF World Championships

 George Aluo

While world soccer governing body, FIFA continues to battle Iran to allow women get involved in the round leather game, the president of Iran Weightlifting Federation, Ali Moradi has declared that his target is to see Iranian woman win Olympic gold in the sport at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Ali spoke, just as an Iranian lady, Poupak Basami made history in Thailand at the on going International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships as she became the first Iranian lady to compete at the championships.

Moradi said Iranian women lifters should take inspiration from Egypt’s Sara Ahmed, who became the first female weightlifter from an Arab nation to stand on an Olympic podium after winning the 69kg bronze medal at Rio 2016.

Moradi told insidethegames that the lifters would try hard to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, for which Iran can enter a maximum of two men and two women, while Paris 2024 is the big target.

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“We are very hopeful of a gold medal in 2024,” he said.

While Iran has been a powerhouse in men’s competition for several years, it was not until 2017 that the Iran Weightlifting Federation (IRIWF) allowed women to compete officially.

The National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran (NOCIRI) supported the IRIWF and after decades of state opposition to women competing, there was a breakthrough at the Fajr Cup in Ahvaz in March last year.

That competition was for men only, but a female weightlifting development programme was launched at the same time and an eight-year-old girl, Aysan Adib, gave an exhibition on the competition stage that made headlines across the nation.

A month later, Iran sent a youth team of four to the Asian Youth Championships in Urgench, Uzbekistan.

Three of them finished last in their weight category, more than 100kg behind the winner, while the best performance was by Elnaz Bajalani, fifth in the 63kg class, 73kg behind the Uzbek champion.