Mahassen Hala Fattouh is a Lebanese expat living in the USA. She is also part of the Lebanese weightlifting team there. She has won many medals, including a big win at the 2018 Mediterranean Games.
Fattouh has been lifting the weight of gender norms off her shoulders for years. She became a Florida state champion in weightlifting and she then represented the United States at the 2006 Youth Pan Am Games and continued to progress as a multi-time medalist at USAW Junior and Senior National Championships.
Fattouh has also taken part in various world team competitions for 5 years. Her latest win was her participation representing Lebanon in the Arab weightlifting championship that took part in Amman, Jordan over the weekend of December 14th-16th.
Among 15 Arab countries participating in the championship, including UAE and Saudi Arabia, Fattouh has earned Lebanon 3 gold meals. One of the reasons why she participated was because, in her own words, she hopes that she will inspire more Lebanese diaspora to contribute to Lebanon in their unique ways. “Everybody has something to help lift Lebanon,” she says.
Her flight was delayed by the airline and rerouted so it took her 36 hours to arrive, yet on time to compete in the championship the very next day, carrying 71 kg in weight classes instead of her usual 64 kg!
In 2014, Fattouh was placed on the Lebanese National Team by the Lebanese Olympics Committee and participated in the 2014 World Championships as the first woman to represent Lebanon in weightlifting championships.
In an interview with Annahar newspaper, Fattouh explained: “Representing Lebanon has been the greatest honor and joy; it’s hard to put that into words. It’s exciting and nerve-racking all at once. But, all the hard work and months of training diminish into these few moments when I can make everyone as proud of our country as I am.”
“It’s important to me to get as far as I can because although I am the first woman to represent Lebanon internationally, I don’t want to be the last,” Fattouh added in her feature.
“Lebanon was very successful in the men’s weightlifting field in the past and I hope to be a part of what brings weightlifting back to the minds of young Lebanese athletes.”
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