2020 Olympics: Moroccan wrestler Ikram in preparation for the Tokyo Games

2020 Olympics: Moroccan wrestler Ikram in preparation for the Tokyo Games
Moroccan wrestler, Zied Ayet Ikram, tells us how he prepared during the pandemic and what he hopes for this years Tokyo Olympics, which will mark his third Olympic Games.
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Zied Ait Ikram represented Morocco at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics [AFP via Getty Images]

Zied Ayet Ikram, the only wrestler from Morocco in the Olympic Games, undertook his vigorous training in Carthage, Tunisia ,where his family are from. He trained with the Tunisian team after a previous agreement between the Moroccan and Tunisian wrestling federations.

Ikram said to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister publication: “I had intended to start my training in El Jadida city in Morocco, before travelling to Iran to continue preparing in Tehran; but coronavirus put a stop to all that – many sporting competitions were cancelled”.

He added, “I was forced to return to Tunisia, where my family lives, and trained there with the national Tunisian team, who made me feel very welcome – this was after an agreement between the Moroccan and Tunisian wrestling federations. I took advantage of this period by attending internal camps with the Tunisian team, though at this time I had doubts over whether I would be able to attend my third Olympics session, after going to London in 2013 and Rio in 2016”.

The Moroccan wrestler continued: “I was continually asking myself if I would be able to win a medal and qualify for the Olympic games again. This was after the disappointment I felt after the African Games in 2019, which many who follow the sport doubted whether I would be able to make it”.

Ikram continued: “Thank God for the support from those close to me and my family, and the support from the Moroccan Wrestling Federation and the Tunisian Federation- I am grateful to them for working with me, because that helped me perform well in the qualifying rounds of the Olympics in Hammamet. I proved there that I am at the forefront of Moroccan wrestling, and am confident I can do well in the Olympics”.

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On his recent preparations for the Olympics, Ikram explained: “The situation before and after qualifying for the Olympics didn’t change - there were still difficulties travelling because of the pandemic, so I chose to train solely with the Tunisian team, which had an international take to their training". 

Ikram concluded by saying: “I dream of making the Arab and African world proud, including my country Morocco, so that the endless hours I have spent in training would have been worth it. I will try my best to perform to the best of  my ability at these games ,my third Olympics session. Finally, I would like to thank all those who have helped me along this journey and have kept my spirits up – thank you everyone”.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. To read the original article click here.

This article is part of The New Arab's special coverage of the Tokyo Olympics. Click here to read the whole series.