The pre-event press conference
A total of 450 male and female athletes representing 40 nations are battling it out for the first modern pentathlon World Cup of the season being held at the Platinum Club in New Cairo from 26 February to 2 March.
The first of the five-series World Cup launches the beginning of a new season in modern pentathlon which comprises five sports: fencing, swimming, equestrian, shooting and running. While the season starts in Cairo, it ends in Mexico in May. Those five series, in addition to the World Championship, are all qualifying events to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in August.
In a pre-event press conference in Cairo, Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi welcomed the participating teams and officials to Cairo and wished them luck in their quest to make it to the Olympics. He thanked attending officials of the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) for their vote of confidence in awarding Egypt to host the first of the World Cup series.
“Egypt has become a ‘sports hub’ in the region,” Sobhi said. “The past years have seen Egypt hosting many major events on both the continental and world levels and they were superbly organised. There are more to be held in 2020 and 2021 including the World Handball Championship next January and before that, this year we will host meetings of the board of the International Handball Federation which is the second biggest sports federation in the world after FIFA. Also, we are hosting later this year the World Cycling Championship for the first time in Egypt in our new world-class cycling track at Cairo Stadium.
“This month we have also seen some successful achievements from Egyptian athletes in some sports which earned them qualification to the Olympic Games including in taekwondo which won the African full quota of four athletes. Other sports like wrestling, karate and fencing have all been good news for Egypt.
“I am also happy with the collaboration between the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation and the Equestrian Federation in horse riding by providing them with the horses and equipment required for the competition.
“I wish all pentathlon athletes the best of luck in their competition and looking forward to seeing our Egyptian athletes on the podium here in Cairo so that more of them could qualify to the Olympic Games,” Sobhi added.
Operations Director Alexander Franca represented the UIPM at the conference. Addressing the audience, he said that Egypt has been very successful in the past years in pentathlon and had won many medals in almost every level and competition in the sport.
“On behalf of the UIPM president and members, I convey to you their greetings to all -- officials, athletes, coaches, media and volunteers,” Franca said. “It’s also great to be back in Cairo for the World Cup which has been held here many times now. Egyptian hospitality has always amazed us. Egypt’s history in pentathlon in winning medals in World Cups and the Olympics have been very successful. This is why the Egyptian Federation has become one of the main partners of success with the UIPM. I wish all athletes the best of luck.”
“We at the ENOC are always glad to play hosts to major sports event in Egypt because having them here enriches the Olympic movement,” President of the Egyptian National Olympic Committee (ENOC) Hisham Hatab said. “It also confirms the security and stability of our country and we are always working together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the sports federations to ensure delivering successful and spectacular sports events,” Hatab said.
President of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation (EMPF) Sherif Al-Erian welcomed the participating teams and their officials to the first edition of World Cup 1 in Cairo. Al-Erian said that while Egypt had organised this particular event before “this year is more significant because it is the year of the Olympic Games which will be held this summer in Tokyo. Egypt has already two athletes, Haidi Adel and Sharif Nazir, who have already earned their tickets to the Olympics through the African quota.
“So, now we have six athletes who will be competing until May in five editions of the World Cup as well as the World Championship to collect as many points as they can to qualify to the Olympic Games. This is why we expect it to be a tough competition, not only among the world’s participating athletes, but also among our athletes who will have another competition among themselves as each of them would need to add more points to their tally to be able to qualify.
“Thanks to the support of the Egyptian government, the Ministry of Youth and Sports as well as the ENOC, who have provided us with all facilities needed, we will witness a spectacular event at the Platinum Club,” Al-Erian said.
The press conference concluded with minister Sobhi and ENOC presidents witnessing the signing of two protocols between the EMPF and the 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital and the Abu-Hamar Trade Company.
The competition kicked off on Wednesday with the semi-finals of both men and women. The women’s, men’s and mixed relay finals will be held starting Friday and ending Sunday.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.