The final day of the five-day 2020 Pentathlon World Cup, held at the Platinum Club in New Cairo, saw Egyptian athletes dominate the mixed relay as they made it to the podium to receive the gold and silver medals in front a huge spectator turnout.
While the Egyptians were unlucky not to reach the podium in the individual men’s and women’s events, they did succeed in the mixed relay.
Heidi Morsi and Islam Hamed teamed up to win the gold medal, while Salma Ayman and Ahmed Al-Gendi came from behind to secure the silver, to see the Egyptian flag being raised twice in the same event. The Egyptians were followed by the Korean Jung Jinhwa who managed to hang on for the bronze ahead of strong competitors Guatemala’s Sofia Cabrera and Charles Fernandez.
For Egypt’s Morsi, it was a familiar feeling as she also won the mixed relay gold in this competition 12 months ago, but with Al-Gendi as her partner. Hamed, who became the mixed relay world champion in 2019 alongside Ayman, said following his victory that it felt great finishing first. “It was a very exciting competition and a very close race and we had to push it home. Thank God we had enough. The atmosphere was very lovely and lots of people came to cheer for us. It’s always very nice to win here at home in Egypt. I’m very happy,” Hamed said.
Partner Morsi added: “Especially after my semi-final, which was very bad, I am very happy to win in front of my family and friends and win gold for the second year in a row in my home country.”
Silver medallist Al-Gendi said he was happy to claim silver with his partner, and even better to have two Egyptian teams on the podium. “We did the best swim, we had a very good fence but then the riding was not so good and we slipped back to sixth place. However, our laser run went well and we made it back to second place. After the first shoot, I decreased the lead held by Islam but then my second shoot was not so good and he was able to increase his lead again.
“I feel great to win another medal in my home country. Our audience and supporters are always cheering for us,” Al-Gendi added.
Korea’s bronze medallist Jung said: “Today was hard, but we ended up with a good place and it feels great.”
Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) President Klaus Schormann described the first mixed relay of the 2020 season as “super” with the top six nations coming from four continents. “This shows the successful global development of the mixed relay, which is important for us and which we hope to be included on the programme of the Olympic Summer Games in Paris 2024.
“When athletes compete together as a team, there is immediately another atmosphere and the team spirit is dominant. Egypt is always strong in these events and my colleague, President of the International Handball Federation Hassan Mustafa remarked that every time he comes to a UIPM competition, he sees Egypt win. I have to say thanks to all the nations that competed in this mixed relay competition which has such a special meaning for us, and we have had a great week here at the start of the 2020 season.
“I have to mention the women’s individual competition – we had the highest entry numbers ever in the first World Cup of the season. My thanks go to all the coaches and trainers for what you have achieved so far after the winter training.
“We are all looking forward to the remaining World Cups and hoping that the coronavirus can be controlled and the athletes will not be affected in attending the upcoming competitions. Everything we decide will be for the benefit of the athletes,” Schormann said.
President of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation Sherif Al-Erian said that he was very proud of his athletes “who have made the whole pentathlon family proud with their achievement” on the final day and also with the delegations singing the praises of a well-organised event.
“Of course, I am disappointed that we couldn’t win any medals in the individual competitions,” Al-Erian said, “but these two medals earned us the points we needed to add to our tally for qualification to the Olympics this summer.
“We still have five more championships ahead from which we can win more points to add more players to the team going to the Olympics. So far, we have two guaranteed tickets: Morsi and Sherif Nazir who both qualified after winning the African Championships last year. I am confident our other athletes will make it to the 2020 Tokyo Games, especially Ayman and Al-Gendi, the youth Olympic gold medalists. It will be a great opportunity for them to compete in the Olympics and we are all looking forward to it,” Al-Erian said.
Following the end of the Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo, the next two installments in the series will both take place in Sofia in Bulgaria. The World Cup is scheduled for 24-28 March while World Cup 3 takes place a week later, 2-5 April.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 5 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly