Olympic seats booked

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 5 Sep 2023

Egypt’s modern pentathlon booked two more tickets to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, reports Inas Mazhar

Egypt s modern pentathlon


Four more pentathletes are going to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games after qualifying thanks to the 2023 African / Oceania Championships which took place in Cairo.

Egypt’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist Ahmed Al-Gendi led the way by winning gold in the men’s final and becoming African champion, only five days after finishing fourth in the 2023 Pentathlon World Championships in Bath. The 23-year-old Al-Gendi beat his younger brother Mohamed in the race for gold, with teammate Eslam Hamed completing a host nation 1-2-3 on the podium. The Egyptian men’s team also claimed the gold medal. Mali won the silver medal, while Gambia claimed the bronze.

In the mixed relay competition, the duo of Mohanad Shaaban and Janna Attia also brought home the gold medal.

African men’s champion Al-Gendi reacted on how happy he was to qualify for Paris 2024 through the African Championships. “It’s a dream coming true as I am looking forward to a new, historical win in Paris!”

The Oceania men’s champion, Australia’s Rhys Lanskey, managed to win an internal duel with his fellow countryman Timothy Oliver for Oceania gold. Lanskey became the 24th athlete to secure a quota place for their country in the 2024 Games, with Naoki Toyomura of New Zealand picking up bronze.

The 21-year-old Lanskey also celebrated his victory and qualification to 2024, telling the media how happy he was. “It has been an honour and a privilege to come to Cairo and compete against some of the world’s best. Personally, it’s been a difficult couple of years battling some injuries, and although I’m still a long way from my best, I am very happy to have come here and won the Oceania Championships and a quota place for Australia at the 2024 Paris Olympics,” Lanskey said.

In the women’s final, Egypt’s 18-year-old Malak Ismail surprisingly won the gold medal, thus securing her country’s first Paris 2024 place for women. Ismail, who became the Under-19 world champion this summer, added the senior continental title to her CV as a major accolade for her age, finishing ahead of Van Rensburg (AUS) and two-time teammate Olympian Haidi Morsi who claimed the bronze medal. Finishing an impressive second overall, the 19-year-old Genevieve van Rensburg of Australia became Oceania champion to secure her country’s ticket to the Olympics.

The Egyptian women’s team also claimed the gold medal, followed by South Africa and Uganda who took silver and bronze respectively.

African women’s champion Ismail told journalists after celebrating her achievement: “Firstly, I want to thank everyone who supported me through this journey. It was a tough season that’s ending very soon after the Junior World Championships. Special thanks to my mother, my whole family, coaches and friends.

“This race was a hard one, as it was very strong competition between all the girls and of course a harder one as we were competing for an Olympic quota.

“I started fencing in a good position, then riding was very good. Swimming was great, too, and I started the laser run in second position. In the third lap I was unfortunately in third position, where I remained till the last shooting. I entered third and got out of the range first.

“I don’t believe that I have done it. It was really an amazing and nice race for me. And of course, I’m very proud of myself and for this great achievement, and still hungry for more,” Ismail said.

Oceania women’s champion Van Rensburg also reacted to her win: “There aren’t enough words for how happy and excited I am. This is honestly a dream come true. I am so grateful for my coaches, friends and family who have supported me through this journey. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

President of the Oceania Modern Pentathlon Confederation Kitty Chiller said she was very proud of her athletes’ performances and accomplishments as she spoke to the media: “On behalf of the Oceania Confederation I would like to sincerely thank the Egyptian Federation and African Confederation for hosting us in Cairo for this important event. It was extremely well organised and we were made to feel very welcome.

“There was a wonderful spirit of solidarity and support across all countries with everyone competing with respect and fair play. To see the more experienced teams helping the development athletes was wonderful.”

Sherif Al-Erian, vice-president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union, commonly known as UIPM, and president of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation (EMPF), gave his take on his athletes’ performances. “On behalf of the EMPF and head of the local organising committee for this Paris 2024 qualifying competition for Africa and Oceania, I would like to congratulate the African Confederation for a great competition.

“We had six nations from Africa for the first time in the modern pentathlon’s history. Egypt, South Africa, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Uganda participated with good athletes in both male and female categories. This is a great accomplishment and I’m sure others will follow.

“We saw some great rivalries play out in the individual finals today and I congratulate the two athletes from Australia and two from Egypt for winning the quota places for Paris 2024. I wish Africa and Oceania all the best in Paris and I hope in future years to see many more athletes from many more countries from both continents,” Al-Arian said.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 September, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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