The modern pentathlon scooped up the most awards at the annual “THE BEST” event in Egyptian sport for the 2019-2020 season.
Hosted by the Egyptian National Olympic Committee (ENOC), the occasion was attended by Egypt’s top sports officials on Sunday at a lavish gala.
President of the ENOC Hisham Hatab opened the event with a welcome address, followed by Hassan Mustafa, president of the International Handball Federation and Mohamed Kordi, assistant to Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi who was unable to attend and delegated Kordi to speak on his behalf.
The Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation (EMPF) took home the most awards. The EMPF was chosen as the Best Sports Federation of the year in Egypt. In addition, from the pentathlon family, came Salma Abdel-Maksoud, the 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medalist, winning the title of the Best Junior Athlete 2020. Hend Eissa, the EMPF life coach trainer, won Best Female Coach 2020 and Mamdouh Welson, the national team administration was named the Best Administrator”.
“The Recognition for Innovation in Sport Award” went to home laser shooting. Athlete Yasser Hefni, who created and executed the idea, received the award on behalf of EMPF and the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), the creator of laser shooting. Home laser shooting was one of the first initiatives of the modern pentathlon during the Covid-19 pandemic, which was held virtually in May and June 2020.
Collecting five awards at “THE BEST”, the EMPF had another reason to cheer. The pentathlon won the most awards and ranked first in overall award-winning among the national federations.
President of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation Sherif Al-Erian commented on his federation’s massive haul of awards. “We as the Modern Pentathlon Federation are very proud for the work we do and the phenomenal results we have achieved in the UIPM competitions and the progress which is on the rise for the last few years. Today, I am really happy that the result of our teamwork in the federation is well recognised,” Al-Erian, also secretary-general of the ENOC, said.
The awards ceremony started by celebrating those who designed the official uniforms and sports outfits of the Egyptian delegation, which will be donned by officials and athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer.
Other winners at the event included Al-Shams and Al-Zohour for Best Club Award. The Best Senior Male Athlete Award was shared by Abdel-Rahman Orabi (boxing) and Mohamed Ibrahim (wrestling). The Best Female Athlete was shared by Hania Moro (swimming) and Gianna Farouk (karate). The Best Male Junior Athlete was Mohamed Hamza (fencing) and the Best Head Coach Award went to Shawki Gharib, head coach of the Pharaohs Under-23 football team.
The best team sport was shared between the football and handball federations for winning African Championships and qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The equestrian team qualified for the Olympic Games 60 years after their last appearance. The best non-Olympic federation was awarded to squash.
The ENOC was also keen to show its appreciation for their partners of success, thus awarding the Best Education Institute in Sport to the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) which is the host institution for the UIPM 2021 Youth and Junior World Championships scheduled to be held in Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2021. Ismail Abdel-Ghaffar, president of AASTMT, received the award.
Before the awards ceremony, the first forum of the Egyptian Olympic Athletes’ Commission took place. Former modern pentathlon champion Aya Medani, who is also member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, heads the Egyptian commission. The forum was attended by the Egyptian Olympic Committee president and board members, Ministry of Youth and Sports authorities, presidents of the Olympic federations and the athletes.
A recorded video message from IOC President Thomas Bach was displayed in the ceremony congratulating the Egyptian Olympic Committee and the athletes “for this great work and this celebration”.
In his message, Bach addressed both officials and athletes. “As you gather for the first forum for your NOC Athletes Olympic Commission, I would like to add my heartfelt congratulations to all Egyptian athletes on this historic step. Athletes are not only at the heart, athletes are the heart of the Olympic community. This is why, this forum, is first and foremost an opportunity for you athletes to make your voices heard on the issues that affect all of you. When the athletes’ rights in the Responsibilities Declaration was adopted last year during the international athletes’ forum, it marked a historic step to strengthen the role of the Olympic athletes in our Olympic movement.
“In the presence of Chair of your Athletes’ Commission Aya Medani, the adoption of the declaration was a demonstration of the athletes’ commitment, and what you can achieve by making your voices heard and by being involved. Endorsing the declaration sends a strong message about the central role that the athletes play in the NOC and in Egypt,” Bach said.
“Because of the global coronavirus crisis, we are all living with much uncertainty. In these difficult times, we all need our shared Olympic values of excellence, friendship, respect and solidarity. This forum is therefore also an opportunity to discuss how you the athletes can spread these values in society. There, I would like to express my admiration for the way that athletes have responded to this crisis. Your support and inspiring messages demonstrate that solidarity runs strong in our Olympic community. It is a clear demonstration of how much sport is contributing to the mental and the physical health of the entire population.
“For this reason, this forum also sends a strong message of confidence and also optimism from Egypt to your fellow athletes in the world, whether in sport or in facing the many challenges in life. We are always stronger together.
Added Bach: “In this Olympic spirit, I wish you fruitful discussions and a successful athletes’ forum. I hope to see as many as possible of you very soon in Tokyo and maybe some of you even before when I want to attend the World Handball Championship in Egypt next month in your wonderful country.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly