Egyptian Fencer Abouelkassem wins Olympic silver medal

Hatem Maher and Reuters, Tuesday 31 Jul 2012

Fencer Alaaeldin Abouelkassem makes history after winning the silver medal at the London Olympic Games on Tuesday

Alaaeldin Abouelkassem
Egypt's Alaaeldin Abouelkassem becomes Egypt’s first medalist at London Olympic Games. (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt clinched its first London Games medal on Tuesday, Egyptian fencer Alaaeldin Abouelkassem winning the silver after a narrow 15-13 defeat by China's Sheng Leii in the final of the men's individual foil.

Abouelkassem, who had to carry on with an injury after hurting his arm in the first period, gave Egypt its first medal since Judoka Hesham Mesbah won the bronze four years ago in Beijing. It is also Africa's first fencing medal in history.

He came within a whisker of clinching gold after leading 13-11 in the third period but Leii roared back to emerge the winner in a tough contest.

Earlier in the day, Abouelkassem from Egyptian coastal city Alexandria reached the final following a 15-12 victory over South Korea’s Byungchul Choi. He also overcame former world champions Peter Joppich of Germany and Andrea Cassara of Italy en route to the final.

It is Egypt's first silver medal since boxer Mohamed Ali Reda's triumph in the 2004 Athens Games. It is also the country's 25th Olympic medal in history.

The 21-year-old has broken into the top 10 on the Federation International d'Escrime point rankings in the last two seasons.

Eighth in the world, he did come tantalizingly close to a semi-final in the 2010 Paris world championships where he took sixth.

Abouelkassem trained in Alexandria before the London Games opened instead of Cairo as the capital is in political upheaval in the wake of the Arab Spring which led to the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 after 30 years in power.

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