A bronze dive

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 6 Feb 2024

Maha Amer brought Egypt glory by winning the World Aquatics Diving Championships bronze medal, reports Inas Mazhar

Maha Amer

 

Maha Amer, at 24, made history in Doha by winning a historic bronze medal for Egypt in the women’s 1m escalator final in the World Aquatics Diving Championships behind Australia’s Alysha Koloi who took gold ahead of Britain’s Grace Reid.

It was the first female medal in the tournament since 1910. Egypt’s Farid Semeka had won two medals at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games: a silver in the 10-metre platform and a bronze in the three-metre springboard.

According to the World Aquatics page, top qualifier Amer, from the University of Florida and whose last name is listed as Eissa, claimed Egypt’s first diving world championship medal, a bronze. Amer was leading after three rounds until she botched her easiest dive in round four, only to rebound on her fifth dive to capture the bronze, 0.10 point behind Reid.

Amer was simply blown away after her win. “Being so close to a gold medal tonight was like out of this world,” she told the media at the venue. “The crowd in the pool rooted for me a little bit too much. That definitely added so much stress [but] we are in an Arab country and it made sense. They wanted me to win and they made me very, very happy.”

Celebrating her victory, Amer revealed that she had been dreaming about the moment a lot. “I wish I had a little bit more confidence in my diving abilities, but I think staying humble is better,” she said.

President of the Egyptian Swimming Federation Yasser Idriss, who attended the competition, said he was proud of Amer’s historic achievement. “This is an exceptional achievement for Egyptian aquatics, especially in diving. It took us many decades to accomplish this victory. Congratulations Maha, you have made us all proud. Thanks to you, your father, personal coach and coaches of the swimming federation. You made history for Egypt. Thanks to you and to all the technical staff who led Maha to this achievement for the first time in the history of the sport.”

Forty-seven athletes started the event. Friday night’s final featured the top 12 after the qualifying round, led by Amer, a 2016 Olympian who competed for the University of Arkansas and transferred to the University of Florida where she is pursuing a Master’s degree as a professional diver. Amer was seeking Egypt’s first world championship medal in diving. In 2023, she placed fifth on 1m, so an improvement was entirely possible.

A silver or gold would have been a first for Egypt in any aquatic sport at the world championships. Amer led after three rounds despite a little difficulty in the second round where she performed the hardest dive of the competition (a reverse 2½ with a 3.0 DD). It didn’t score as well as her first dive, but it earned her enough points to stay in the lead.

In round four, however, Koloi, 22, jumped from third place into the lead with a reverse 1½ with 1½ twists. She held the top spot even as Reid performed her best dive in the last round to catapult from sixth place into silver-medal position.

But it was close. Koloi won gold with 260.50 points. Reid was just 3.25 behind her, followed by Amer who trailed Reid by merely one-10th of a point.

“I am in a big shock,” Koloi said after winning gold in her world championship debut. “This is a big surprise. I am stoked. This medal on my neck is unbelievably heavy. It is absolutely gorgeous.”

As for the silver, Reid said that her first individual world championship medal felt “a little bit surreal but honestly, I’m just delighted. I’ve had a bumpy couple of years. I am finally finding my feet and my rhythm again.”

Egypt participated in the tournament with six divers, four of them males: Mohamed Farouk, Omar Moataz, Mohamed Noaman, Ramez Sobhi, Amer, and Malak Tawfik.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 8 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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