Sarah Chaâri, the young Belgian who shakes the world of taekwondo

Sarah Chaari the young Belgian who shakes the world of

Brussels (Belgium) (AFP) – The sharp clicks of the kicks delivered by Sarah Chaâri to her teammate resonate on the walls of the training center on the Erasme campus, in the suburbs of Brussels. This is where the young Belgian athlete comes to train twenty hours a week.

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At just 18 years old, she is world number one in taekwondo in the under 67 kilo category. But her ambitions are not limited to sport: in the second year of medicine at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), she is trying to combine particularly demanding studies with her athletic career.

It’s difficult to combine the two, it requires a lot of organization to find time to study and to go and train. », explains Sarah Chaâri.

For now, I’m getting by and I hope it continues to work in the future… “.

Dressed in a white kimono, the taekwondo player wears an Islamic veil, a religious sign that follows her even in competitions. “ In Belgium, this is no problem for anyone “, she explains.

Sarah Chaâri won her ticket to the Paris Olympic Games at the prestigious Manchester Grand Prix in December where she beat the Chinese Mengyu Zhang in two rounds in the final (6-4, 16-4).

A victory which comes in addition to several international titles in the under 62 kilo category. After winning the world championships in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2022, she also won a title at the European Games this year.

“She works hard”

The young Belgian athlete, 1.91 m tall, however, remains very cautious about the Olympics.

Every taekwondo athlete trains to one day (…) qualify and win medals. “, she simply blurted out.

There will be fifteen other girls at the Olympics who are just waiting for one thing: to fight and give the best of themselves. Everyone has a chance to get on the podium and the level is extremely high », Adds his Argentinian coach, Leonardo Gambluch.

She is motivated, she is very focused, she works hard, he says. She’s always been like that. It is this recipe that will put it in the best position for the Games “.

Although Belgium has produced several world taekwondo talents in recent years, Sarah Chaâri will this time be the only representative of her nation at the Olympics.

Jaouad Achab, former world champion, who came 5th in Rio after being made the favorite, this time failed to get his ticket to Paris during the Olympic qualifying tournament, just like the two other Belgian hopes Badr Achab and Raheleh Asemani.