Who's hot and who's not: How Egypt's athletes fared at Rio 2016

Karim Farouk , Sunday 21 Aug 2016

Beside medalists Sara Ahmed, Mohamed Ihab and Hedaya Malak, several Egyptian athletes were in the spotlight after impressive performances at Rio, while others were more lacklustre

Sara Samir
Egypt's Sara Samir poses with her bronze medal on the podium of the Women's 69kg weightlifting competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. (AFP)

Sara Ahmed Samir (weightlifting, 69kg)

Teenager Sara Ahmed Samir has been the greatest revelation of the Rio Games after claiming the bronze medal in the weightlifting 69kg event.

The 18-year-old athlete lifted a total of 255kg (112 kg in snatch and 143kg in clean and jerk) behind gold medalist Yanmei Xiang of China (261kg) and silver medalist Zhazira Zhapparkul of Kazakhstan (259kg) – who were also gold and silver medalists at the 2015 championships - to become the first Egyptian woman to officially win an Olympic medal since the country first participated in the games in Stockholm in 1912. 

She was able to beat the 2016 European champion Nazik Avdalyan of Armenia to third place.

"I hope it will encourage other girls to take up the sport. A new weightlifting generation can be born, a new beginning," said Samir, who wore a full-length unitard and a sports hijab while competing.

She also handed Egypt its first weightlifting Olympic medal since the country won two golds and one silver at the 1948 London Games. "I hope I can help to re-establish Egypt as a successful weightlifting nation," she concluded.

Mohamed Ihab (weightlifting, 77kg)

Mohamed Ihab

Having missed the 2012 London Games after failing a doping test, weightlifter Mohamed Ihab redeemed himself in Rio to claim the bronze medal of the men's 77kg event.

Ihab, 27, lifted a total of 361kg (165 kg snatch and 196 kg in clean and jerk) only to be beaten by gold medalist Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan and China’s silver medalist Lu Xiaojun, who set both a world and Olympic record after totaling 379kg.

"It turned out that the suspension was a gift from God. It helped me focus on trainings and my technique until I finally got what I deserved and silenced critics," Ihab told Ahram Online in an exclusive interview after winning the medal.

The 2014 and 2015 World Championships silver medalist didn't give his best performance at Rio, as his record achieved in 2015 stands at a total of 363kg.

He said that everybody was "very cautious" following the injury of Armenian Andranik Karapetyan. "I was careful not to put an extra burden on my shoulders. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to lift the weight," he explained.

At 27, Ihab says it will be a very long shot to keep up the pace at in Tokyo 2020.

Hedaya Malak (taekwondo, 57kg)

Hedaya Malak

Taewkwondo fighter Hedaya Malak could have been competing for the gold but missed that chance only by the golden kick. The 23-year-old lost to Eva Calvo of Spain 1-0, in the fourth tie after three scoreless two-minute rounds in the semi-finals, but had a chance to redeem herself against Raheleh Asemani, claiming the bronze as a consolation prize.

Calvo avenged last year's loss to Malak in the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Mexico.

Malak had a stunning run in this 57kg event as she demolished Patino Marin of Colombia 13-0 in the round 16 before surviving the biggest challenge of the tournament by defeating the 2015 World Champion Mayo Hama of Japan by the golden kick, 3-0, in the quarter-finals.

It was a heroic performance by Malak, who fell to the ground in tears after her bronze triumph, and she will hope to move further up the podium in Tokyo in 2020.

Women's beach volleyball team Doaa El-Ghobashi/Nada Moawad

Beach Volleyball

They lost their three games without even winning a single set but that was not the essence of their story.

Doaa El-Ghobashi and Nada Moawad are not only the first ever Egyptian beach volleyball team to make the Olympics, they are also the first ever team to compete with the Islamic hijab, in contrast to the usual bikini of the sport.

Doaa - who wears the hijab- and Nada – who wears long sleeves but does not cover her head - were beneficiaries of the relaxation of uniform regulations by the international volleyball federation before the 2012 London Games.

"I wear a hijab because I am a Muslim but it doesn't stop me feeling a part of this game," El-Ghobashi told reporters after their opening game.

It was an unforgettable journey for the girls who enjoyed huge support from the Brazilian fans happy to see different cultures in Rio. Doaa and Nada left at the early stages but surely marked the Olympics forever.

Shaimaa Haridi (weightlifting, 75kg)

Shaimaa Haridi

Weightlifter Shaimaa Haridi, 25, came just a step down from the podium at Rio. Haridi, who was competing in the women's +75kg event, lifted 117kg in the snatch and failed her two other attempts on 121kg.

In the clean and jerk she succeeded in her 155kg and 161kg attempts, and she pushed 8 kilos further to the 169kg in order to get a medal. It was too much for her and she failed her attempt, coming fourth with a total of 278kg behind Suping Meng of China (307kg), 2015 World Champion Kuk Hyang Kim of North Korea (306kg), and Sara Robles of the United States (286kg).

"I wanted badly to win that medal and that's why I tried to go that far. What I had achieved is already a personal record and I hope I can win a medal in the next tournament," Haridi said.

Afaf El-Hodhod (shooting)

Afaf Elhodhod

Twenty-year-old Afaf El-Hodhod was one of Egypt's revelations at Rio after finishing in fifth place in the 10m air pistol contest.

El-Hodhod, the 2015 African champion, registered 386-9x points in the qualifying round to reach the final where she scored 137.1 points to finish fifth in the overall ranking, which was led by Mengxue Zhang of China who scored a new Olympic record of 199.4 points. El-Hodhod also competed in the 25m pistol but she finished 25th in the qualifiers.

Inas Mostafa (wrestling freestyle, 69kg)

Inas Mostafa Youssef

Freestyle wrestler Inas Mostafa was a surprise package at Rio de Janeiro. The 27-year-old African champion romped into the semi-finals after beating Venezuela's Maria Jose Acosta in the round of 16 and Brazilian Gilda Maria De Oliveira in the quarter-finals.

She became the first ever Egyptian woman to reach the semis and the best wrestler among the team at Rio, although she lost to Russia's Nataliya Vorobyova, gold medalist at the 2012 London Games, in the semi-finals, before conceding a second defeat in the bronze medal match against Kazakhstan's Elmira Syzdykova to miss out on the chance of claiming a medal.

Ahmed Kamar (shooting, trap)

Ahmed Kamar

Ahmed Kamar missed out on the chance of competing for a bronze medal after finishing fifth in the trap men's contest at Rio. He reached the semi-finals after collecting 119 points in the two-day qualifiers to be ranked fourth in the overall ranking.

He lost a duel against Britain's Edward Ling after managing 12 successful hits out of 15. His performance is the joint best for an Egyptian shooter at the 2016 Games, matching the earlier impressive performance of Afaf El-Hodhod.

Abdel-Khaleq El-Banna and Nadia Negm (rowing, single sculls)

Nadia Negm and Abdel-Khaleq El-Banna

Rower Abdel-Khaleq El-Banna finished fourth in Final B, tenth in the overall ranking, in the men's single sculls event. It is Egypt's best performance since Ali Ibrahim finished eighth in Atlanta 1996.

Nadia Negm, who was competing in the women's single sculls event, finished sixth in Final D and 24th in the overall ranking, which was the best-ever performance for an Egyptian female athlete in rowing.

Ragab Abdallah (weightlifting, 94kg)

Ragab Abdallah

Ragab Abdallah displayed an impressive performance in the men's 94kg event where he finished fifth in the final table. The 25-year-old lifted 174kg in snatch and 213kg in clean and jerk totaling 387kg, 5kg short of third place claimed by Aurimas Didzbalis of Lithuania.

Islam El-Shehaby (judo, 100kg)

Islam El Shehaby

Judoka Islam El-Shehaby came into the spotlight at Rio but for the wrong reasons. El-Shehaby lost by Ippon to Or Sasson of Israel in the 100kg event but declined to shake hands with him, stirring waves of controversy in the international and local media.

The 34-year-old judoka was under huge pressure domestically due to Israel's unpopularity in Egypt and a widespread belief among many Egyptians that cooperating with Israelis in formal contexts is unacceptable.

The International Olympic Committee has said that it has "severely reprimanded" El-Shehaby and asked the Egyptian Olympic Committee to "ensure in future that all their athletes receive proper education on the Olympic Values before coming to the Olympic Games."

El-Shehaby stressed that he didn't break the rules as he is only bound to bow. "A handshake happens between friends, and he can never be my friend," he said.

Hossam Bakr (boxing, 75kg)

Hossam Bakr

Boxer Hossam Bakr, who was tipped for a medal at Rio, had an easy run to the quarters after beating Mervin Clair of Mauritania 3-0 and Dieudonne Seyi Ntsengue of Cameroon 3-0.

But the 2015 World Championships bronze medalist wasn't up to Mexican hot prospect Misael Rodriguez who delivered an impressive display of aggressive attacks. The 27-year-old dashed Egypt's hopes of claiming their first boxing medal since the 2004 Olympics.

Alaa Abouelkassem (fencing, foil)

Alaa Abouelkassem

The silver medalist of the 2012 London Games was shouldering Egypt's hopes of another medal at Rio. However Abouelkassem – who has been struggling with injuries over the past few years – couldn't meet expectations and was eliminated from the men's individual foil round of 16 by Daniele Garozzo of Italy who went on to claim the gold medal.

The 25-year-old Egyptian has blamed the FA for his lack of preparation and focus and even announced his retirement in an angry reaction following his elimination. He has since backtracked.

He couldn't level up in the team contest where Egypt finished seventh place among eight teams.

Azmy Mehelba (shooting, skeet)

Azmy Mehelba

Azmy Mehelba was one of Egypt's biggest disappointments at Rio, after failing to get past the qualification round of the shooting men's skeet even.

Mehelba, bronze medalist of the 2014 World Championships and silver medalist of the 2015 masters, had an impressive start, hitting 74 out of 75 points during the first day of the qualifiers to rank third.

However the 25-year-old suffered a setback on the second day to register only 46 out of 50 points, totaling 120 points. He slipped to 11th place and failed to reach the semis.

Mehelba was tipped for a medal after his great boost during Italy's skeet shooting Grand Prix in 2016 where he has scored 125 out of 125, a record achieved only six times before.

Men's handball team


Despite being led by the outstanding star Ahmed El-Ahmar, Egypt was eliminated from the first round of the handball contest.

The Pharaohs were drawn in Group B alongside 2016 European champions Germany, 2015 World Championships bronze medalists Poland, mighty Sweden, the former dominant world power, and Slovenia and hosts Brazil.

The African champions won only one game, that against Sweden, were held to a draw by Brazil, and conceded three defeats. The Egyptians weren't expected to claim a medal but hopes were high they would advance to the next stage, Instead they were defeated by Slovenia 27-26 and drew to Brazil 27-27. 


Ahmed Akram (swimming)

Ahmed Akram

Egypt's swimmer Ahmed Akram who has the best record for Egypt was another flop after failing to get past the first rounds of the 400m and 1500m freestly.

After winning the gold medal in the 800m at the 2014 Youth Olympics, Akram has been on the rise. The 20-year old swimmer reached the final of the 1500m in the 2015 FINA World Championships timing 14:53.66m to finish at the fourth place.

However at Rio he couldn't meet the expectations and finished 11th of the heats with a clock of 14:58.37m. It was much better of his performance at the 400m freestyle where he timed 3:49.46m to end up at the 27th place of the heats.


Click here to see the full results of Egyptian athletes in Rio

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