Egypt's swimmer Ahmed Akram (Reuters)
A key player in the recent smash-success of Egyptian swimming following a season of outstanding performances, Ahmed Akram, the country’s best ever swimmer, is motivated to do something even more special at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In Brazil, Akram will be setting his sights on winning a medal and making it to the Olympics hall of fame, especially as he already has Olympic achievements under his belt, winning gold at the 2014 Youth Olympics in the 800 m freestyle (7:54.29), making him the first ever Egyptian to win the contest's top accolade.
The 20-year-old swimmer is still hungry for new glory after registering Egypt's best ever performance at the 2015 FINA World Championships in August, finishing fourth in the 1500m event (14:53.66m), an achievement that was followed a month later by winning four gold medals in 400m freestyle in the multi-sport All-Africa Games in Congo.
In an interview by email, Akram spoke to Ahram Online about his recent preparations, results, ambitions and upcoming challenges in Rio.
What is your main target at Rio?
I will be competing in the 1500m freestyle in Brazil, and my main target is to try to make the finals of that race.
What are your recent performances and competitions? Your current numbers?
My prominent achievement in 2016 was winning the gold medal in the men’s 1650 yard freestyle final of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championships, held in February at Columbia, Missouri.
I came first with a 14:35.49, breaking my previous personal and university record by 11 seconds.
At the same event, I won a silver medal in the men’s 500-yard freestyle final, finishing in the second position with a [time of] 4:13.48.
Also, I won the gold medal in the men’s 1500m race at the Dubai Arab Aquatics Championship (DIAC) last April with [a time of] 15:08.05.
Do you think the recent success of Egyptian swimming, and especially your perfect season, will motivate you to shine in Brazil?
Yes, I think seeing all the success that Egyptian swimming has been able to achieve gives me motivation to do something more special.
Do you have certain concerns ahead of the tournament?
You never expect what will happen in that race. There are a lot of great swimmers in the 1500, and it will be so hard to make it to the finals, so everyone has to be in his very best.
What about your major opponents?
There's one from Italy, China, USA and Australia.
Finally, what are your expectations for yourself and your Egyptian teammates at Rio?
I believe we can do something better than we did at the World Championships in Kazan last year, so we will see what will happen.
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