At only 18 years old, Egyptian fencer Mohamed El-Sayed belied his age to deliver some stunning results at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
El-Sayed finished eighth in the men's overall ranking after reaching the quarter finals, having brushed aside world champions and renowned fencers.
"As a young fencer I was so enthusiastic to prove myself among the senior players and world champions. I was so worried even before the beginning of the Olympics," he told Ahram Online.
"I expected that I would deliver a good performance and believed that God will reward me for my efforts."
El-Sayed made a stunning start to his journey, beating 2018 world champion Yannick Borel of France, who also won the gold medal in the team's event in Rio 2016.
"I I focus only on my matches, not on whether I will win a medal or not. I always do my best," he said.
After pulling off a 15-11 victory over four-time world champion Borel in the round of 32 of the men's individual epee before, El-Sayed celebrated the Cristiano Ronaldo way.
He mimicked the Portuguese football's star celebration by jumping up and shouting "SIUUU" as he landed on the ground. "SIUUU" is a Portuguese word that means "Yeees".
"Ronaldo is my role model in sport. I am a big fan. I love him so much," El-Sayed said with a smile.
"He is the best player I have ever seen. He is a hard-working footballer with a distinguished mentality who is always on top.
"I hope I can be like him in fencing one day."
El-Sayed beat Chinese Lan Minghao 15-9 in the round of 16, causing another upset by ousting the Asian champion and world number seven.
However, he lost 15-13 to Ukrainian Ihor Reizlin in a closely-fought quarter-final battle.
He proved a tough nut to crack against his 37-year-old opponent, who is third in the world ranking.
"I was doing well but I made only one error that led to this result," he commented.
El-Sayed had a previous Olympic experience before flying to Tokyo, albeit in a junior level. He took part in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, finishing fourth in the epee individual event.
He qualified for the Tokyo Games after winning gold medal in the men's individual epee at the African Qualifying Championships, which took place in Cairo last April.
El-Sayed, who started practicing fencing at the age of six, was born in Tanta, a Nile Delta city from which most of Egypt's epee fencers hails.
"We are specialized in the epee sword in Tanta city," he proudly said.
El-Sayed comes from a fencing family background. His parents are epee-fencing coaches in Tanta.
"I used to go with my parents to training when I was a kid. I became fond of fencing, I loved it!" he recalled.
"I spent most of the time in fencing bouts. I gained experience and my parents were great supporters."
El-Sayed's father, El-Sayed Samy, is a coach of the Egyptian national team and his mother, Amany El-Behery, is a professional coach too. His elder brother, Ahmed, is also a fencer who is 24th in the world ranking.
El-Sayed (C) with his parents in honorary ceremony
Dr.Samy with his son Egyptian fencer El-Sayed
"When I was young, I used to watch my brother win medals. He is an exemplary fencer who motivated me to be better," El-Sayed added.
El-Sayed, who is in the last year of high school, is adept at striking the right balance between fencing and his studies.
"I have nothing to do in life except studying and training," he said.
El-Sayed postponed his final exams due to the Tokyo Olympic Games but he is now preparing to take them. He is looking forward to joining either the faculty of engineering or business administration.
"It is a new challenge for me. My dream is to excel in both my studies and sport," he said.
"My biggest dream is winning an Olympic medal at the 2024 Paris Games."
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