Almost first

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 19 Sep 2023

Egyptians showed their near dominance of the modern pentathlon by coming in second place at the Junior World Championship, reports Inas Mazhar

Almost first

 

Egypt’s young Pharaohs just about had their final say following a fascinating performance held in Druskininkai, Lithuania, as they claimed three gold medals in the women, team and mixed relay events in the Under-22 Pentathlon Junior World Championship to finish second in the standings at the one-week event.

The Egyptian duo of Malak Ismail and Fairda Abu Hashem opened the score in the competition by winning the gold in the women’s mixed relay event.

The team of Ismail, Amira Kandil and Zeina Amer managed to claim the second gold medal in the women’s team event.

Amer and Moutaz Mohamed went for a wonderful mixed relay gold on the closing day of championship with 1,353 in total points. They were followed by the German team which claimed 1,333 points and the silver medal. The bronze medal went to the host team Lithuania with 1,315 points.

According to the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM), the last day of the event was a day of consistency across all disciplines for Egypt (Amer/Mohamed) as they held off a diligent challenge from Germany with newly crowned women’s individual champion Josefine Unterberger adding silver alongside Moriz Klinkert.

The mixed relay gold medal was Egypt’s third of the week, the same tally as France but an additional two bronze medals meant the French topped the medal table, with Egypt second and Germany in third.

Nine nations made it to the podium in an enormously momentous week for the sport, with fans around the world watching live coverage of the tournament with the integrated obstacle discipline on display for the first time.
Egypt’s gold medalist Amer said it felt great after coming first. “This is my second Junior World Championship medal, counting yesterday’s team medal. It was a great experience and experiencing it with Moutaz. He’s a great teammate, fast runner and good swimmer. We pretty much had our eyes on gold from the beginning of the day,” Amer told journalists following her victory.
Teammate Mohamed also showed how glad he was. “I am so very happy. It’s great to be partnering with Zeina. She is so, so good in obstacle. She is the best.”
UIPM President Klaus Schormann also reacted on the positive outcomes of the championship. “As the UIPM 2023 Pentathlon Junior World Championship comes to an end, I must thank our national federation of Lithuania for presenting us with facilities here that are unbelievably super – a clean, professional centre for different sports but which is very useful for our sport.
“We have the support of the city government, which is very important, and also the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania whose president, Daina Gudzineviciute, I met a few days ago.
“I congratulate all teams who took part in today’s mixed relay. We saw some wonderful performances with the race for the bronze medal particularly exciting and giving the Lithuanian team a great moment.
“The Asian Games coming up this week will be the biggest Asian Games ever, and this is a qualification competition for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. We are looking forward to this and also the Pan-American Games, so we have several very important modern pentathlon competitions remaining this season,” Schormann said.
UIPM executive board member for sport Janusz Peciak added: “I am very happy to have seen the athletes’ performances today. I think it was a great competition and organisation. The obstacle discipline was a challenge but you could see that each time the athletes were getting better and better and today, in the mixed relay, the obstacle discipline was very exciting. You need drama in sport.

“Overall, it’s been a fantastic week for the athletes and the coaches and judges. Already I am looking forward to the Olympics Games in Los Angeles when many of these athletes, I am sure, will compete in 2028,” Peciak said.
Lithuanian Modern Pentathlon Federation President Aistis Baronas was proud to host the second biggest competition at home. “We are really, really happy that so many athletes are coming here and we are promoting Druskininkai as the spa centre of the world. The most important thing is the facility — it is perfect. It works 100 per cent and all of the athletes and delegations love it. 
“For the future, we hope that more and more athletes will come to Druskininkai, not just for competitions but for training camps. Of course, competitions are our main goal but training camps let us grow together in union as athletes, especially with the new discipline,” Baronas said.
While the World Junior Championship concluded, other Egyptian pentathletes were taking part in the Mediterranean Beach Games and, as always, winning medals.

Head of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation Sherif Al-Erian took to his Facebook account to congratulate his athletes for making Egypt “always proud” at the Games.

“A look back at the fantastic accomplishments of the modern pentathlon team in the third Mediterranean Beach Games, hosted by Greece from 9 to 16 September, reveals an impressive display of skills and determination. The EMPF team, composed of Habiba Ramadan and Youssef Amer, proudly secured Egypt’s first medal in the Games, a well-deserved bronze in the mixed relay event.

“Additionally, this year’s Mediterranean Beach Games marked an important milestone for the sport of pentathlon, with the inclusion of triathlon in the Games. As we celebrate the success of Team Egypt in the third Beach Games, it is important to recognise the remarkable efforts of our athletes as well as the entire Egyptian team. Congratulations to Team Egypt for their outstanding performance. Well Done!” Al-Erian, who is also UIPM vice president and Egyptian National Olympic Committee secretary-general, said.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 21 September, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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