INTERVIEW: Egypt satisfied with Tokyo results, aiming for more medals in Paris 2024, says EOC sec-general El-Erian

Ghada Abdel-Kader , Wednesday 11 Aug 2021

Egypt has spent a quarter billion pounds preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and claimed a national record of six medals

Tokyo Olympics Egyptian champions

Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC) Secretary-General Sherif El-Arian spoke with Ahram Online about the Egyptian delegation at the 2021 Olympics, the biggest ever in the country’s history, and the medals collected for Egypt.

El-Arian believes that the Egyptian team achieved good results in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, after claiming six medals despite missing their forte, weightlifting.

“I want to thank the 133 athletes who participated for Egypt in the Tokyo Olympics for their efforts. They did their best on the field. We are very happy. We achieved this result without weightlifting, which our strongest sport. We are hopeful for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” El-Erian told Ahram Online.

In Tokyo, Egypt has won six medals, breaking its previous record of five medals at Berlin 1936, London 1948 and Athens 2004.

Karateka Feryal Abdelaziz won a gold medal for Egypt, the country’s first in 17 years and its eighth in its Olympic history. Ahmed Elgendy won a silver in modern pentathlon, and four bronze were won by Greco-Roman wrestler Mohamed Ibrahim (Kesho) 67kg in wrestling, karateka Gina Farouk and taekwondo fighters Hedaya Malak and Seif Eissa.

The tally could have been larger if Egyptian weightlifters, most notably Rio 2016 medallists Sara Ahmed and Mohamed Ihab, were not forced out due to the suspension of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation over doping issues.

El-Arian has lamented some missed chances at Tokyo.

“We had hopes for shooter Azmy Mehelba, but unfortunately his performance was not good enough to reach the finals. His brother Abdel-Aziz Mehelba was so close with one shot away from the final,” El-Erian said.

The EOC were also optimistic for karateka Ali El-Sawy, who missed the semis by only one point, and Javelin thrower Ihab Abdel-Rahman, who has not been at his best.

“In fencing, the results were amazing, it was much better than expected. It never happened before in the history of Egypt.

“We were the only country with two boys in the final eight in the foil event. In the sabre events, Egyptian fencers were so close to winning in the quarterfinal, and 18-year-old fencer Mohamed El-Sayed qualified for the quarters. This had not happened with any fencer in any other countries before at this age,” El-Erian added.

Besides Elgendy’s medal in modern pentathlon, female athlete Haydi Adel Morsy made remarkable progress.

“She finished in 19th place, which is very acceptable since she finished in 36th place in Rio 2016. Hopefully she will achieve a medal at Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028,” he added.

El-Erian added that an evaluation will be announced soon.

“EOC will deliver a report that will be provided to the public and media as soon as we arrive,” he confirmed.

“There is no such thing as penalising for bad results or not delivering during the Olympics. Sports federations have to evaluate what they did and reconsider their plans for the future,” he added.

EGP 250 million spent

El-Erian revealed that Egypt has spent EGP 250 million from 1 January 2019 till now in preparation for these Olympic games.

The biggest amount previously spent was EGP 125 million for Rio 2016.

“Over three years, this is not a big amount in comparison with other big nations. If you compare it to what was spent in Rio, it will almost be the same in US dollars. The previous sum was spent before the devaluation of the Egyptian pound,” El-Arian explains.

Egypt devaluated its currency in November 2016. At that time, the exchange rate was EGP 8.87 for $1, and now it is EGP 15.74 per $1, according to the Central Bank of Egypt.

“The federation’s preparations were very good and up to the standard. The only difficulty was that COVID-19 hampered most of the preparations in all countries, but our preparation was better than most,” he added.

Some estimates state that in order to achieve a medal in the Olympics, an athlete needs around $1 million per year during his preparations.

“We cannot afford these numbers; it is too expensive for us. What is reasonable for us would be around EGP 1 million or 1.5 million per year per athlete.”

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