By Caoilte de Barra
The 2022 Youth World Championships was a historic event for Lebanon as the nation secured four medals in total. However, their journey to success is much more inspirational, given the obstacles they faced.
In recent years the nation has experienced political and economic crises followed by the impact of COVID-19 and the tragedy of the port explosion in Beirut, which occurred in 2020. The financial and economic crisis is considered the worst in the country’s history, and the situation is ongoing.
The impact of this has seen the federation face multiple hurdles in order to send a team to an event. It has also made it difficult to develop the sport in Lebanon, IMMAF director Wissam Abi Nader explained:
“Lebanon has been through many problems in the past three years. From the financial and economic problems to the harbour bomb. It was very tough to stay on the same pace of developing any activity or sport in the country.”
Despite the difficulties, Abi Nader detailed the work being done to develop the sport, especially in terms of safety, which has helped grow the participation amongst youth in Lebanon.
“IMMAF has done an amazing job on youth development and working on the safety of our athletes, and it is an honour to have a team from Lebanon representing the country for the third time in the IMMAF Youth World Championships after all the problems.
“Most of our focus was on the youth, especially following the IMMAF grading system and progression scheme. We are witnessing an increase in the numbers of athletes entering our national championships because of the safety that IMMAF implemented.”
Lebanon finished the Youth World Championships with four medals. Adnan Hankeer won gold, while Yahya el Orr, Abdulrahman al Baba and Angelina Neaimi each won a bronze medal. The success of the team is incredible especially given the challenges. Speaking on the nation’s success, President of LMMAF Mohamad Dagher added:
“Every significant achievement subtly carries with it an equally proportionate challenge. Lebanon’s latest achievements in Abu Dhabi were no exception to this. Between being fazed by the momentary celebrations or getting fuelled to keep working towards our goals. Lebanon chose the latter. Four International medals stood as a testimony to the progress made and made way for more than four new modules in our National Youth Development Program. Our youth are the fertile grounds where our nations’ aspirations can prosper and fructify, and we spare no effort in raising an exemplary generation of athletes.”
“Lebanon always rises from the ashes. This is why we are called Phoenix.”