Two medals at home

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 12 Mar 2024

Egyptian pentathletes made it twice to the podium at the 2024 World Cup in Cairo, reports Inas Mazhar

2024 World Pentathlon Cup

Egypt snatched the gold and silver medals in the men’s individual event in the 2024 World Pentathlon Cup. Olympian Ahmed Al-Gendi took the gold medal while Moetaz Wael claimed the silver.

The five-day event, from 5-10 March, was held at the sports complex of the American University in Cairo.


Michelle Gulyas of Hungary and Al-Gendi retained the titles they earned in 2023 to begin the Olympic year in the best possible style.
Gulyas confirmed her early season form with a serene victory, finishing 8sec ahead of silver medallist Sunwoo Kim of Korea and 14sec clear of bronze medallist Kerenza Bryson of Great Britain. This was the fourth Pentathlon World Cup gold for the 23-year-old Hungarian sensation, who looks confident ahead of what is likely to be her second Olympic Games in Paris 2024.


Later, Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist Al-Gendi won his home World Cup for the third time but only after resisting a remarkable burst from his countryman Moutaz Mohamed who snatched the lead for part of the laser-run.
African champion Al-Gendi was joined on the podium by two first-time medallists, Wael and bronze medallist Kamil Kasperczak of Poland.


Following the race, the 24-year-old Al-Gendi told The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) media how proud he was after clinching the gold medal. “One year ago, I won this race and I am feeling the same emotions today. One year ago, the whole race was intense and today it was like this, too.
“I was feeling a little bit more confident in the last shoot, and I focused on that because I knew it was going to be a hard last lap. I’m so pleased to win the first World Cup of the season here in Egypt for a third time.
“It was so difficult, even going back to the first day of qualification when I qualified in my group in 12th place. But here I am winning the gold medal. Actually today, Moetaz Mohamed was fantastic and had a great race.
“When he passed me on the fourth lap, he was pushing me so hard and I knew I would have to shoot well and save energy for the last lap.”
Silver medallist Wael fought back tears as he added: “It’s very special and I’m really proud. I have so much support and I’m very happy. I made a lot of effort and to be on the podium beside our No 1, with all his experience, it feels really good.


“The race was very hard, even back to fencing on the first day in qualification when I had a bad fence, but then my swimming was just enough to get me through because I have a great laser-run.
“In the semi-final, I had a bad shoot and had to run very well. But today it was all perfect, I couldn’t ask for more.”
Egypt could have added another medal in the mixed team event, when they had the chance of clinching a bronze medal of the race. However, the mixed team, which comprised Malak Ismail and Mohamed Al-Gendi, settled for fourth place. The Mexican team of Mariana Arceo and Duilio Carrillo, who had come from behind to earn the mixed relay gold medal for their country on the final day of the competition, had a satisfying moment after a remarkable run of four silver medals in the 2023 regular season. Gold may have been elusive during that time but it was claimed in style as Arceo and Carrillo overturned a big deficit to deny Kazakhstan duo Lyudmila Yakovleva and Temirlan Abdraimov.
While silver was a breakthrough achievement for the young Kazakh duo, bronze went to a more familiar source as Seungmin Seong and Changwan Seo of Korea fought back for a podium place after a slow start. It was a similar story for the host nation but Ismail and Al-Gendi left themselves with too much to do and finished fourth.


Following the medal ceremony, UIPM President Klaus Schormann told journalists that the Cairo edition had seen female and male athletes prepared at a high level.
“It was a great achievement for the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation to have the first two places in the men’s final, but also congratulations to our Hungarian athlete who won the women’s final with a big difference to second place.
“It was good also to see a Korean female athlete on the podium, underlining the global movement of Modern Pentathlon — and this is what we want to see, with athletes from different continents competing for success.”
On the sidelines of the competition, the UIPM Executive Board announced a 15 per cent increase in total prize money in 2024 for athletes competing in UIPM competitions with immediate effect.
“This increase will introduce prize money for the top six individual athletes in each gender at the Senior World Championships and also see the introduction of prize money for places seventh-10th at individual World Cups,” a statement said.
Schormann said the Executive Board meeting had discussed the request of the Athletes Committee and its chair, Egypt’s former pentathlete Yasser Hefni, who had presented clear arguments that the EB supported.


“Athletes are the focal point of our union and we always need to give them as much support as possible. I hope this increase in prize money sends a clear message that athletes have the full support of the EB and the movement, and we are happy that the board voted unanimously for this increase in prize money.”
“I must thank the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation and the Minister of Sports Ashraf Sobhi who I met several times these days. Congratulations to the Ministry of Sports and the government of Egypt, as well as all sponsors and volunteers, as well as the media, who are promoting our sport and escorting us with fantastic coverage.
“We should also note that this was the last time we will have horses in a Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo, and athletes know that there is another future coming with Obstacle, as we will see when Egypt organises the UIPM 2024 Junior World Championships in June.

“The support of the American University here in Cairo is always very welcome and we are very thankful for that. The way our athletes have started the season, we can look forward to a very exciting World Cup season where all athletes want to achieve points for their ranking and to qualify for the World Cup final in Ankara and the Olympic Games.”

 


* A version of this article appears in print in the 14 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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