With only 12 athletes taking part in just two sports at the fifth Arab Games in Algeria, Egypt nevertheless bagged 13 medals, 12 of them gold, reports Inas Mazhar.
Egypt had decided to participate in the Arab Games with an extra small contingent as most athletes in other sports were already either taking part in international competitions or preparing for upcoming events. The Arab Games are considered a regional tournament, not an international, continental or world event.
In Algeria, Egypt was represented by four athletes in athletics, including Israa Eweis, Ihab Adel-Rahman, Mustafa Amr and Mustafa Al-Gamal, and four female athletes in weightlifting: Neama Said, Rahma Ahmed, Shaimaa Khaled and Amal Tawfik.
Eweis clinched two gold medals in the long jump and triple jump whereas Amr claimed a gold medal in the shot put. Al-Gamal took gold in the hammer throw.
In weightlifting, Said won two gold medals in the 71kg weight category while teammate Ahmed also collected two gold medals in the 81kg weight category.
Khaled added another two gold medals in the plus 81kg category. Tawfik wrapped up the women’s competition by winning a gold and a silver medal in the 49kg weight category.
According to Alaa Hassan, the weightlifting head coach, his athletes went through tough times. “The beginning was when weightlifter Shaimaa Khaled complained of a severe mucus lump which required immediate surgery. We decided to pull her out of the competition but she insisted on fighting and participated in the event with her doctors around. Amazingly she won the gold 24 hours after the surgery.
“Gold and silver medallist Amal Tawfik had a bad road accident months before the Games, however, under the supervision of the Ministry of Sports and the medical team she went into surgery but managed to recover before the Games. She was literally between life and death,” Hassan revealed, adding that the president of the Weightlifting Federation was present at the competition and praised the remarkable performance of the Egyptian weightlifting team.
The delegation was received by Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi who congratulated them on their success and promised them prize money incentives for their achievements.
President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee Hisham Hatab said that the Egyptian delegation kept their promise. “We had decided to take part in the Arab Games with a minimum delegation, only two sports, weightlifting and athletics. We took the decision after studying all aspects of our participation including the technical and financial aspects, especially that the Organising Committee of the Arab Games had canceled some sports and also reduced some weight categories in other sports. Accordingly, we selected the athletes according to their seedings and records in those sports in order to guarantee winning gold medals. Thankfully, eight players managed to win 12 gold and one silver,” Hatab said.
“We are now working on preparing for the All-Africa Games in Accra in Ghana in 2024 and the Olympic Games in Paris the same year. We are working together with the national sports federations who have qualified for both tournaments,” Hatab added.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 20 July, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly