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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Medals machine

With a haul of 273 medals, Egypt won more medals than any other country in the African Games and remained the nation with the most medals in the history of the championship, Inas Mazhar reports

Inas Mazhar , Saturday 7 Sep 2019
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Egyptian athletes re-made history once again, this time at the African Games, which recently concluded in Morocco. The Egyptians dominated the majority of the sports, winning medals in all the 22 events they took part in. There was an Egyptian athlete standing on every podium at this 12th African Games which saw the participation of more than 6,000 athletes competing in 26 sports.

With a total of 273 medals — 102 gold, 98 silver and 73 bronze — Egypt dominated the 54-nation competition. It was the most medals won by a country in the Africa Games since the founding of the games in 1965 in Congo Brazzaville.

In this most prestigious sports event in the continent the Egyptian athletes not only dazzled the world but surprised themselves when they broke their own medals record they set in the 2015 Games in Congo where they won 217 medals — 85 gold, 63 silver and 69 bronze.

This year, the Egyptians were far ahead of their closest opponents the Nigerians who came in second place with 127 medals: 46 gold, 33 silver and 48 bronze medals. South Africa followed in third place with 87 medals: 36 gold, 26 silver and 25 bronze medals.

Algeria and Morocco followed in fourth and fifth places. The Algerians collected 125 medals — 33 gold, 32 silver and 60 bronze medals while the hosts Morocco took 109 medals — 31 gold, 32 silver and 46 bronze medals.

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“This achievement has confirmed Egypt’s sports supremacy in this great event which is a small version of the Olympic Games,” said Hisham Hatab, president of the Egyptian National Olympic Committee (ENOC). “Our results have also earned us qualification to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Hatab said.

“Honestly, we did expect such results and even more. We even announced our predictions for the games, before it started, in a press conference attended by the minister of sports. But unfortunately some teams didn’t meet expectations. Still, these remarkable results came as a result of hard work and professional and disciplined planning.

“Meanwhile, I thank all the athletes, coaches and officials for this huge success and new records and we trust that they will continue with that high-level performance. The responsibility is even bigger now and we are looking forward to the Olympic Games which is less than a year away. This is our ultimate goal,” Hatab told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The African Games were held under the patronage of King Mohamed VI. They were held in Rabat, Salé, Temara, Casablanca, Benslimane and El Jadida.

The African Games, which coincided with the commemoration of Youth Day, was, for the first time in African Games history, a qualification step to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Seventeen sports acted as qualifiers to the Tokyo Games.

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Egypt participated in the two-week event with a massive delegation of 297 male and female athletes who competed in 22 sports: archery, athletics, badminton, 3x3 basketball, boxing, canoeing, fencing, gymnastics, handball, karate, judo, rowing, shooting, swimming, table-tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, beach volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling as well as two non-Olympic sports, chess and snooker. Below is what Egypt did in every sport:

Weightlifting got for Egypt the most medals, 56 — 31 gold, 20 silver and five bronze medals. Gymnastics won a total of 18 medals: eight gold, seven silver and three bronze medals.

Fencing claimed 19 medals — eight gold five silver and six bronze medals. Chess took an overall eight medals including five gold and three silvers.

Tennis collected 11 medals: four gold, three silvers and four bronzes, while table tennis took in 10 medals: four gold, two silvers and four bronze medals. Archery netted six medals: four gold and two bronzes while judo won eight medals: four gold and four bronzes.

Triathlon claimed a gold medal in the women’s event and a bronze in the team event. Shooting garnered six medals: three gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Snooker reaped two silver medals in both the men’s and women’s individual competition and a bronze medal in the mixed double event.

Badminton claimed six medals, the most from the sport in Egypt’s history in the African Games, winning one gold, one silver and four bronze medals in the team event. Swimming clinched 14 gold, 18 silver and nine bronze medals. The swimming medals played a major role in putting Egypt on top of the standings, especially in the first week.

In athletics, 11 medals were won: two gold, five silver and four bronze. Rowing got one gold, five silver and two bronze medals. Beach volley claimed the gold medal in the women’s double.

Taekwondo, which normally gets Egypt an Olympic medal, concluded in Africa with only two gold medals, eight silvers and one bronze. Equestrian won the silver medal in the team event. Karate claimed a total of 14 medals — two gold, eight silver and four bronze medals. Wrestling brought in 15 medals — five gold medals, four silver and six bronze.

The men’s team sports were surprisingly poor, losing their gold medal opportunities. They made it to the podium but as silver and bronze medalists. The 3x3 basketball team claimed the silver medal after losing the final to Madagascar 21-19, while handball had to settle for the silver medal after losing to Angola. Volleyball won the bronze medal.

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The first African Games were held in 1965 in Brazzaville. The founder of the Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, who conceived the African Games, had rechristened the Friendship Games, which included French-speaking countries. The first games were, therefore, held in Brazzaville in 1965 and recognised by the International Olympics Committee. The previous edition took place in Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, in 2015.

The African Games were known up until the last edition as the All Africa Games. The decision to change the name was taken during an Executive Council meeting of the African Union held in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in January 2012.

Throughout the past 12 editions, the Egyptians had won a total of 1,635 medals — 650 gold, 504 silver and 481 bronze medals. Nigeria follows in second place with 1,326 medals: 470 gold, 428 silver and 423 bronze medals. The South Africans come in third with 1,054 medals won in only seven editions since the nation was banned from participation because of its apartheid policy. The South Africans won 397 gold, 362 silver and 295 bronze medals.

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