Military might

Inas Mazhar , Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 29 Oct 2019

Egypt finished 17th out of 109 countries in the Military World Games, reports Inas Mazhar

Salma Abdel-Maksoud
Abdel-Maksoud, the star of the Egyptian delegation winning two medals, a gold and a silver in the modern pentathlon

Egypt’s military men and women hauled nine medals at the International Military Sports Council (CISM) World Games which was held in the capital of Hubei Province in Wuhan, China.

The 10-day event, the seventh of its kind, was held from 18-27 October and saw the participation of 109 nations.
The Egyptians, who finished 17th, took part in eight of the 31 events with a delegation of 83 male and female athletes taking part in taekwondo, swimming, judo, football, boxing, wrestling, the modern pentathlon and track and field. Egypt won its medals in boxing, wrestling, taekwondo and the pentathlon.

A gold medal went to Mohamed ‘Kisho’ Ibrahim in Greco Roman wrestling in the 67kg category while the second gold went to the modern pentathlon duo of Islam Hamed and Salma Abdel-Maqsoud in the mixed relay. This was the second gold medal for the couple in just one month after they claimed the gold medal in the same event in the World Pentathlon Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

The two silver medals were won by Nour Abdel-Salam in the taekwondo women’s -49kg event while Abdel-Rahman Orabi claimed the second silver in the men’s light heavyweight 75-81kg category.

Three bronze medals were garnered in taekwondo, one for modern pentathlon and one in Greco-Roman wrestling. In taekwondo, Egypt’s Olympic champion Hedaya Malak claimed the bronze medal in the women’s -67kg while Abdel-Rahman Mustafa took the bronze in the -68kg. Another bronze medal went to Olympic champion Seif Eissa in the -80kg.
Abdel-Maqsoud added another medal to her tally by winning the modern pentathlon bronze medal in the women’s individual competition, whereas wrestler Abdel-Latif Ahmed claimed another medal in Greco Roman by winning the bronze medal in the 130kg weight category.

Before the tournament, Egypt was 33 in the overall ranking of medals in the history of the Military Games with a total of 21 medals: six gold, six silver and nine bronze.
These Military World Games, known as CWG, got a final salute on Sunday to cap off 10 days of sporting accomplishments and friendship.

The closing ceremony brought the message “sharing friendship, building peace” to Wuhan Sports Center Stadium with artistic performances that seamlessly weaved together the cultures of the event’s past hosts and participating nations.
Once the flags of the 109 delegations were marched out into the stadium, the orderly notes of the military orchestra were replaced with vivacious melodies from traditional instruments from around the world.

A fan dance that traces its roots to the Republic of Korea and host of the Mungyeong 2015 Games, transformed into a passionate samba from 2011 hosts Brazil, while the mascots of all three events -- including Wuhan’s beloved Bingbing -- came together to the delight of the spectators in the 13,000-capacity hall.

China’s rich history was also on display with musical numbers featuring soft chimes and the world-renowned Han opera.
The closing ceremony also echoed the technological theme of the opening ceremony. Throughout the two-hour show, the stadium lit up with advanced 3D graphics that transformed the floor into various dream-like scenarios from a phoenix lair to a jungle waterfall, while the ceiling became a night sky of patterns and constellations.

Held at the same venue where the Chinese men’s volleyball team won gold the previous night, the ceremony was also a fitting reminder of the success the local team had in the event.

As the flame extinguished in the cauldron at the Wuhan Sports Center, a curtain fell on a sporting feast that has captivated this city of more than 10 million people and the world beyond. For more than 9,000 athletes who competed at the Games, it signaled a call for a much-deserved celebration of their sporting achievements.

XU Qiliang, president of the Organising Committee and also vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, declared the wrap up to the biggest ever “Olympics for the military”.

This year’s edition of the Games also saw seven world records set and 85 CISM records broken. Athletes rated it as a high-level international event, which featured 67 Olympic and world champions.

In the tournament, China finished with 133 gold medals, with Russia and Brazil trailing in second and third places respectively. Host China racked up 239 medals in total, the first time for a country to grab 100 plus golds.
The traditional powerhouse Russia won 51 gold and 161 medals in all, followed by Brazil, the host for the 2011 Games, with 21 gold and 88 medals all together. France, Poland and Germany lined up from fourth to sixth place, all collecting at least 10 gold medals.

Herve Piccirillo, CISM president, hailed the Games as a great success and tagged it with two key words: “historic” and “peace”. Piccirillo lauded its material and spiritual legacy to the host city and the world, saying it was “historic” for its history-making participation of nearly 10,000 military personnel, investment for games organization, mobilization of volunteers and passion from Chinese people. “Peace,” he said, “because the message that is carried by a whole people, because beyond the games, it is all the Chinese people who are spreading this message of solidarity and peace which corresponds to ‘friendship through sport’, the motto of the CISM.”

It was the first time all the competitions for the Games were staged in a single city. The size of the host city, as well as its diversified terrain and abundant water resources, made Wuhan ideal to 35 sports venues built or renovated to meet international standards.
A 30-building village was also built to accommodate the athletes and coaches, the first such site in the Games’ 24-year history.
The CWG attracted the largest number of athletes and presented the most sports in its history. Nearly 10,000 soldiers from 109 nations competed for 329 gold medals in events from athletics, football, swimming, and basketball to parachuting, lifesaving, aeronautical and naval pentathlons.

It was also the first time the Games were open to the public instead of being confined to barracks. Over 600,000 tickets had been sold, according to the Games executive committee, with men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, swimming and diving in highest demand.

According to the Games’ official website, this edition will leave Wuhan with infrastructure improvements, new subway lines and environmental upgrades. Over the past three years, the city renovated 1,300 kilometres of its urban roads and saw its metro network reach 330 kilometres in total length. Meanwhile, 360,000 trees were planted.

First held in 1995 in Rome, the Military World Games is a multi-sport event held every four years for military sportspeople and organised by the CISM. The Games have been held since 1995, although championships for separate sports had been held for some years.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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