Lea Grapples For the Gold Medal

Most of us received their Christmas presents on December 25, but Lea Farhat, a 22 year old Masters student in Sports Science at UA, got her gift on November 27: she won the gold medal at the Lebanese Judo Open Championship against her female adversaries, all weights and ages involved.

Thirteen years ago, Lea started learning judo along with other activities. And while her mother encouraged her to focus on more gentle sports, Lea already knew she had her father’s rush and fever for judo. And so she dropped everything and practiced judo relentlessly, with the priceless support of her father: “My dad used to drive me all the way from Baabda to Adma and back, every day, and would wait for me to finish my training. His support got me here and I am very grateful”.

Judo always had a positive impact on this excelling judoka, not only on the mat; she loved how it taught her respect to her opponent as well as self control, discipline and calmness. And though the word judo means “gentle way” in Japanese, Lea proved throughout her competitions that there is no gain without pain.  During her participation in the Asian Judo Championship 2009, where she was the only Lebanese female judoka to win the gold medal, she sprained her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). This led to a difficult performance in her ground fighting last year, during the first Asian Ju-jitsu Championship and yet, she managed to win the bronze medal as she relied on her strong muscles and advanced techniques.

Calm and grounded, Lea talks about her future plans. On an academic level, she hopes to pursue a PhD in Research of Sports Science in Lyon.  On an athletic level, she will hold on to judo while perfecting her skills in ju-jitsu, which consists in ground fighting. And she hopes Lebanon can recognize and support its athletes more and more along the way. On a personal level, Lea hopes she can one day pass on to her kids what she learned best, just like her father did. 

By Rayane Nasreddine 

Lea FARHAT, student in Sports Science Masters at UA and Gold Medalist Judoka