Ahed Joughili (27) is the most famous Syrian weightlifter, who competed in the 105 kg bodyweight category at the Olympics in 2008. Joughili’s first international success was winning a gold medal at the2006 Asian Games in Doha. He claimed both gold medals for the 105 kg snatch and clean and jerk at the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Pescara.
Q: How can a boy become a weightlifter in Syria?
A: It is not uncommon in Syria at all, as we have about 15 clubs in the country and relatively a great number of people find this sport interesting to practice. The problem comes from the fact of missing professional coaches and low capacity in administration comparing to developing number of men intend to join groups of weightlifters in Syria. I should say, besides football, wrestling and boxing, weightlifting’s popularity is growing. The village I was born, Hama, is one of the centers of this sport in Syria. Nowadays we have two hundred lifters to practice here day by day.
Q: What is your personal story falling in love with barbells?
A: I started my weightlifting trainings in 2000. I know at age of 16 it was a little bit late to start but I was really strong and the gap quickly disappeared. After ten months of training I was able to improve my clean and jerk result as 175 kg. Many said I was a talented guy and I believed in them. Five years later I had my first results on international podium as well. I won a silver medal (clean and jerk), bronze (snatch) at the Mediterranean Games.
His coach Dimitar Stoikov (BUL) has been working in Syria since 2010. He had very famous lifters under his leadership, such as Sevdalin Marinov, Asen Zlatev for four, Milan Dobrev for two years.
“We started to work together with Ahed 16 months ago” he said. “I think this guy is extremely strong and I am sure if he started his training sessions in one of the traditionally powerful countries of weightlifting, let me put in Russia or China, he already could have been an Olympic Champion. He has a very good body construction, physically strong and under professional training he has a lot of reserve to develop.”
Q: What is your motivation for the London Olympics?
A: First of all I must grab the chance to enter the Games. I suppose due to my rapid recent progress; my 12th position achieved in Beijing will not be difficult to surpass. In 2008 As I remember at that time I was very nervous and as a result I had only one successful attempt in snatch and one, namely the very last one, in clean and jerk. I wish those nerve-racking moments never return. Our minimum aim for London is to be ranked among the best six, but the final dream is a podium position occupied.
Q: What support can you expect from your family?
A: My father is close to 70 but still works as a farmer everyday. He wants me to stop training and help him with his job. He wants even to pay me more than I can earn as a lifter. We have a big family with ten children, six boys and four girls. I myself have two daughters. The first one is called Pescara to remember my first victory at the Mediterranean Games in Pescara in 2009. She was born at that time. Our other daughter is five months old. Lucky she was not born during the time of the London Games.
Q: How did you respond to your father? Will you stop training if your dream, to win a medal, will come true?
A: No I am not ready yet to stop weightlifting. I am still hungry for further successes.