Egyptian swimming: New leap after All-Africa Games success

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Thursday 17 Sep 2015

The huge success of Egypt's swimming continues in the All-Africa Games in Congo

Egypt's Ahmed Akram (L) and Farida Osman at the swimming World Championships in Kazan,Russia (Photos:Reuters)

Sporadic non-football success in Egypt has been rarely associated with swimming during the past decades but a stunning reverse of fortunes by the country's standards set the bar higher and raised hopes of a possible medal at next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

After recent success at the 2015 FINA World Championships, Egypt's swimming team shined again after producing fresh outstanding performances in the multi-sport All-Africa Games in Congo (4-19 September)

The Egyptian team ended the swimming competition in second place with 41 medals (11 gold, 18 silver, 12 bronze), 13 behind leaders South Africa.

The latest success comes on the heels of Egypt's best ever swimming achievement which saw Ahmed Akram and Farida Osman raise eyebrows among Egyptian supporters in Russian city Kazan, breaking 11 national records in the process. 

The 19-year-old swimmer, Akram, was the first ever Egyptian to qualify for the Men's 1500m final at the World Championships, just a day after 20-year-old Osman also became the first-ever Egyptian to qualify for the women’s 50m butterfly final.

Akram finished fourth with 14:53.66m, while Osman finished fifth in the 50m butterfly with a time of 25.78 seconds.

Egypt's achievements in Congo

In the African Games in Congo, Egypt's superb results saw Akram win  four gold medals in 400m freestyle (3,48.06), 800m freestyle (7,55.36), 1500m freestyle (15,11.68) and 200m butterfly (1,58.87 ) contests.

In the women's competition, Farida Osman also won four gold medals in 50m freestyle (25.12), 100m freestyle (0,55.41) , 50m butterfly (26,31) and 100m butterfly (0,58.83) contests.

Egypt team (Mohamed Khaled (56.85), Youssef El Kamash (1:02.10), Omar Eissa (54.16) and Mohamed Samy (49.33) also won the gold in 4 × 100 m medley relay.

Finally, in the mixed events, Egyptians Mohamed Samy (57.28), Youssef El Kamash (1:02.67), Farida Osman (59.27) and Rowan El Badry (56.82) also won the gold in the 4 × 100 m medley relay in a time of 3,56.04.

As of Wednesday, Egypt is leading the Games medal table with 148 medals (56 gold, 45 silver and 47 Bronze), 48 ahead of second-placed South Africa.

In the previous edition of the All-Africa Games in 2011 in Maputo, Mozambique, Egypt finished second with 66 medals( 32 gold, 14 silver and 20 bronze), 90 behind winners South Africa. The Egyptian swimming team also finished fifth with 2 medals (one gold and one bronze), while South Africa led the table with 74 medals (33 gold, 22 silver and 18 bonze).

Road to Olympics in Rio

Egypt's team, including the country's best ever duo Akram and Farida, will be on the radar next year at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

“My main goal was to reach the 1500m final as I will be competing in that race at the 2016 Rio Olympics,” Akram told Ahram Online after his triumph in the World Championships in August.

Egypt’s new golden boy, Akram, hopes to emulate Tunisia great Oussama Mellouli, who won a host of world titles including a gold medal in the 1500m in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the bronze in the 2012 London Olympics.

“I think because he competes in the same race {1500m}, Mellouli is a role model for me and I hope I can make similar achievements,” Akram added.

In her only Olympic appearance to date, in London in 2012, 20-year-old Osman finished 42nd with a time of 26.34 in the 50m freestyle. Now, she has a different outlook for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after reaching a new level of maturity.

“In the coming competitions, I will have my sights set on Rio 2016. I will be competing there in the 100m butterfly, 100m free and 50m free so the trio will take all my concentration in the coming period,” Osman told Ahram Online.

“I believe that I can achieve good results in the 100m butterfly at the Olympics and so I will work hard on that particularly during my training. My current record is 58.2 and I will work hard to make it 57.5 before the Olympics. I know it will be hard amid this tough competition, but rivalry always motivates me," she added.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)


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