Soon, Egypt will be granted its first-ever Olympic medal by a female athlete. But the nation will not have to wait for the Rio 2016 Olympics, as weightlifter Abeer Abdulrahman is poised to receive a silver medal from London's 2012 Olympic Games.
Abdulrahman placed fifth in the women’s heavyweight (75 kilogram) division at London 2012. However, the reanalysis of samples from the previous Olympics yielded positive results for not one, but all three female heavyweight podium-finishers.
The International Weightlifting Federation has declared that the 2012 Olympic heavyweight champion Svetlana Podobedova (Kazakhstan), runner-up Nataliya Zabolotnaya (Russia) and bronze medalist Irina Kulesha (Belarus) are provisionally suspended, after their London 2012 samples were proven to contain performance-enhancing drugs.
This means that once the anti-doping violation is confirmed, the medalists will be stripped of their titles, while Spain’s Lidia Valentin, Egypt’s Abir Abdulrahman and Cameroon’s Madias Nzesso will be promoted to first, second and third place, respectively. Abdulrahman will thus become Egypt’s first female Olympic medalist.
"It was surely a surprise I did not see coming, but winning an Olympic medal is a huge honor. It is what any athlete in the world wishes for," Abdulrahman told Cairo Stadium . "Fainting and injuring myself at the (London) Olympics was one of the most intense moments in my life, yet hearing about the Olympic medal made me forget every moment of pain or fatigue.
"I think God did me justice. I did not receive the support I deserve from the media, the federation, nor the ministry since my injury and retirement at the 2013 Mediterranean Games. Winning the medal is God's greatest award."
Abdulrahman had also competed and placed fifth in the light-heavyweight event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This Olympic medal will be the perfect addition to her impressive medal tally, which includes Junior World Championship gold, silver and bronze, plus 2008 African Championship, 2010 Junior African Championship, 2011 IWF Grand Prix and 2011 Pan Arab Games gold medals.
Meanwhile, in the super-heavyweight category, samples taken at London 2012 from the Armenian bronze medalist Hripsime Khurshudyan tested positive for prohibited substances. Therefore, Egypt’s Nahla Ramadan, who initially placed fifth, will now rank fourth place.
Abdulrahman will become the second Egyptian weightlifter to receive a London 2012 Olympic medal after the doping crackdown. Last month, Tarek Yehia was bumped from fourth to third place in the men’s light-heavyweight category, earning the first Egyptian Olympic weightlifting medal since 1948. This makes a total of four medals for Egypt from London 2012.
Egypt is sending the second largest weightlifting squad to the Rio Olympics among all the participating nations. Starting August 7, six male and three female weightlifters will fight for Egypt’s 12th Olympic weightlifting medal.