At the World Modern Pentathlon Championship Egyptians managed to win three medals: one gold and two silver. Held at the campus grounds of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport (AAST) from 24 to 31 July, the event came as the AAST is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Egypt’s first medal came on the first day of the competition when the duo of Islam Hamed and Ahmed Hamed claimed the silver in the men’s relay. The following day saw Heidi Morsi and Amira Kandil collect the women’s relay gold after an impressive stretch of stamina. Mariana Arceo and Mayan Oliver of Mexico came second while South Korea won the bronze.
“We started with fencing and did very well as we managed to be among the top three positions,” Islam Hamed said. “Then we achieved a clear and smooth round in the riding and so was the swimming. The challenge was in the end at the laser run, where we did our best to maintain our priority to remain in the front, which secured us the second place and silver medal.” He added that it felt good to compete at home surrounded and supported by the home fans and supporters. “It’s a special medal,” he said.
Gold medalist Morsi was over the moon celebrating her victory with her teammate Amira Kandil. “I’m super happy for taking the lead from the beginning at the fencing, where we came on top and continued our lead at the riding and then the fencing bonus round. Though we finished third in the swimming, we made it up when we finished first in the laser run,” Morsi said.
Kandil said it was a remarkable day for her and her teammate. “Actually, the whole day was very good. To keep momentum and stay in the lead all day is great. It has never happened before for any Egyptian athlete to do something like this. We are so happy with the medal and shared our joy and pictures with our teammates, the boys, who claimed the silver medal the day before. Actually, when we celebrated with them winning their silver medal, we told them we would get the gold and they said ‘no way!’ But it happened and we did it,” Kandil said.
Spectators were thrilled with the third medal won by Mohamed Al-Gendi who clinched another silver medal for Egypt. The medal was consolation for the Al-Gendi family whose older son Ahmed, the 2016 Olympic Games silver medalist, finished in fifth place as he continues his comeback from injury. The younger Al-Gendi, who was making his debut at his first World Cup season, said he was happy with the medal.
“It was also a long season for me and the first time for me to complete a whole clear course in a competition. This is amazing and I am so happy. I felt it went well with me from the beginning and when I finished the riding clear, I knew I would make it to the podium,” the bronze medalist said.
The gold medal was won by Balazs Szep of Hungary, his first World Championship medal, while France’s Christopher Patte took the bronze.
The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) President Klaus Schormann thanked both hosts, the AAST and the Egyptian Federation, for a “wonderful event. A very special thanks to the Arab Academy, which has already hosted last year, the combined UIPM 2021 Junior and Youth World Championships here in Alexandria. They offered an excellent infrastructure with good facilities, accommodation and food and wonderful venue dressing in this very green university environment.
“Thanks again to the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation and congratulations to everything that President Sherif Al-Erian, also UIPM vice president, has achieved with his team. We never forget the support of Egypt’s Minister for Sport Ashraf Sobhi, who was present here along with Hassan Mustafa, president of the International Handball Federation and honorary president of the Egyptian Olympic Committee. Also thanks to the volunteers and all those who have contributed to deliver a successful event.
“I am also glad that the new format is going well and admire how the athletes and coaches are adapting to the new format and performed at a high level this season. Adapting to the new format is essential and a preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games. We hope it would make an impression at the Paris Olympics in order to continue within the Olympic programme. So far, we are not sure if it would be there in 2028 Los Angeles but we hope it will and are looking forward to it,” Schormann said.
President of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation Al-Erian thanked all the parties and authorities for their effort in delivering “a spectacular and successful event” and also praised the athletes for their achievements. “We are all happy and proud with the performances and results of our athletes and the medals as well. They all did great. We have made it to the podium three times and our results were beyond our expectations and we are grateful for that. We are also happy with our young athletes who proved to be the future champions.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.