A wrestling first

Abeer Anwar , Tuesday 22 Aug 2023

Mustafa Alameldin became the first Egyptian to win gold at an Under-20 world championship, reports Abeer Anwar

Under-20 world championship
Under-20 world championship

 

Mustafa Alameldin has become the first wrestler from Egypt to win a gold medal at the U-20 World Championships which were recently held in Amman, Jordan.

Alameldin defeated Gaspar Terteryan, from Armenia, 4-2, in the 67kg final.

In hopes of following in the footsteps of Egypt’s 2004 Olympic Greco-Roman 96kg gold medalist Karam Gaber, Alameldin got a turn from par terre (when an athlete is placed in a defensive position with their hands and knees on the mat) and then defended as if his life depended on it when put in par terre in the second period. He led 3-1 and gave up a step out in the final second. Armenia challenged the call, asking for fleeing, but lost the appeal which added the extra points to Alameldin’s score.

“I didn’t want anyone to take advantage of me from par terre,” Alameldin said. “I positioned myself properly and remained strong. All I was thinking about was getting this medal.”

Alameldin’s run to gold included five straight victories, beginning with Croatia’s Luka Ivancic. He then faced returning Azerbaijan gold medalist Kanan Abdullazade but remained unfazed, beating him 7-5. Turkey’s Azat Sariyar was no match as Alameldin reached the semi-final against arch rival Ahoura Bouveiri of Iran.

A fierce battle saw Alameldin lead 4-0 before Bouveiri made it 5-2 at the break. But Alameldin caught Bouveiri in the middle of a turn and scored two before adding two more. The 9-4 score stood till the clock expired.

“The final was very difficult and tough,” Alameldin said. “However, the second match was the most difficult but I was able to win the gold medal.”

The Alameldin win also marks the first time Egypt has won a gold medal at the World Championships after four years. Mohamed Al-Sayed was the last Egyptian to win gold, that at the U-23 World Championships in 2019.

The U-20 African champion had participated in the senior African Championships last year and won silver after losing to Tokyo Olympian Abdel-Karim Fergat from Algeria. At the U-20 event, he lost to Algeria’s Fayssal Benfredj  

However, Alameldin turned it around this year by beating Benfredj 9-0 to become the U-20 African champion. He also finished fifth at the Alexandria Ranking Series event. He lost 5-3 to Kazakhstan’s Merey Bekenov in the opening bout but pinned Tokyo bronze medalist China’s Sailike Walihan in the repechage, a practice in series competitions that allows participants who failed to meet qualifying standards by a small margin to continue to the next round, like a wild card. A close 3-2 loss to China’s Husiyuetu in the bronze medal bout saw him finish fifth.

The gold in Amman helped Egypt finish inside the top 10 in the team race which was won by Iran with 162 points, way ahead of second-placed Georgia which had 89 points.

Armenia will look back at this and two more losses in the bronze-medal bouts as missed opportunities to finish second. It was third with 88 points while Turkey finished with 81 points in fourth place. Asian powerhouse Kyrgyzstan, which did not bring a full squad, was fifth with 70 points.

In the 130kg event, Egypt’s Fekri Eissa was able to add the second medal to Egypt’s lot, a bronze, after beating Turkey’s Talip Ciftici 3-2 while the gold went to Iran’s Fardin Hedayati.

Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi congratulated the wrestlers for their achievements, highlighting the fact that Egypt was building a new generation of junior champions in several sports. “I am very proud of the wrestling achievements and the manly attitude of Alameldin in the final match. This is a great achievement and we will give all athletes all the support needed to win more titles and medals, as these are the future of Egypt,” Sobhi said.

Sobhi received the wrestlers at Cairo Airport upon their arrival.

United World Wrestling had decided to reallocate the 2023 U-20 World Championships to Amman. The event was originally scheduled to be held in Warsaw from 14 to 20 August.

Adhering to UWW’s regulations, which require the organiser to ensure equal participation for all athletes, free from any discrimination based on passport or other criteria, and considering the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee, UWW was compelled to find an alternative host after Poland failed to ensure the required conditions.

UWW held an Executive Committee meeting, after which Amman was approved as the new host.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 24 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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