Egypt's Elgendy makes history with unlikely medal in modern pentathlon

Ghada Abdel-Kader , Tuesday 10 Aug 2021

The 21-year-old staged a superb comeback when it mattered most to reach unprecedented heights for Egyptian modern pentathlon athletes

President of the Egyptian modern pentathlon Sherif El-Arian with athlete El-Gendy after winning the silver medal

Just when Egyptian fans were following karateka Feryal Abdelaziz as she marched to the final of the women's +61kg category, Ahmed Elgendy made a stunning achievement in modern pentathlon.

Elgendy, who was not lined up as one of Egypt's pre-Olympics medal favourites, took home silver on the penultimate day of Tokyo 2020 to become the first African to win an Olympic modern pentathlon medal.

Abdelaziz won gold on the same day, with her triumph somewhat overshadowing Elgendy's remarkable outcome.

However, the 21-year-old deserves credit for staging a superb comeback when it mattered most to reach unprecedented heights for Egyptian modern pentathlon athletes. At times he looked far behind the leading pack, but he made it over the finish line at just the right time.  

He finished second in the men's individual event with a total 1,477points -- 208 in fencing, 316 in swimming 200m freestyle, 248 in riding show and 668 in laser run.

He trailed eventual gold medalist Joe Choong by 50 points after the fencing, swimming and riding events but came back roaring in the laser run to finish just under five seconds behind the Briton.

"It is our first medal in the summer Olympic Games in modern pentathlon. We are so happy with it," Sherif El-Arian, president of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation (EMPF), told Ahram Online.

"Now, EMP have won a complete set of medals in every single major competition, whether it be the summer Olympics, youth Olympics, world championships seniors, juniors and youth in all levels. It is a great achievement for modern pentathlon."

Modern pentathlon comprises of five disciplines: fencing (one-touch bouts with épée swords), freestyle swimming 200m, equestrian (show jumping), and the laser run (combined event of laser pistol shooting and running).  

Elgendy ranked third in the UIPM's world ranking in the men's senior individual. In the Olympic Games ranking, he was ninth with 158 points.

"As soon we finished the 2018 youth Olympic Games, we took a couple of months rest and started working for the seniors' qualification," El-Arian said.

Elgendy won a bronze medal at the 2021 World championships in Egypt to secure passage to the Tokyo Games.

"Our goal has been accomplished," El-Arian added.

Although Elgendy was not tipped for an Olympic medal, his run before the Tokyo Games suggested that he was indeed on the right track.

He won several gold medals at the UIPM Youth U19 World Championships in Portugal and the UIPM Junior U21 World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2018.

In the same year, Elgendy also clinched gold in the individual contest of the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

And in 2021, just before the Olympics got underway, he was crowned the world junior champion for the second time.

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