Interview: Egypt's taekwondo bronze medalist Hedaya recalls Rio glory

Doaa Badr , Wednesday 7 Sep 2016

Hedaya Malak speaks to Ahram Online about her achievement at the Rio Olympics, having won a bronze medal after beating Raheleh Asemani of Belgium last month

Hedaya Malak
Egypt's Hedaya Malak won bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games (Reuters)

How did you feel after returning from the Rio Olympics with the bronze medal?

I cannot describe my feelings. I was very happy. When I saw the great happiness of the Egyptians, my family, friends and trainers; I knew that I had realised an achievement.

Every day I receive invitations from the country's different institutions to honour me. I am flattered with all these ceremonies. My club (the Shooting Club) gifted me a car. It was a great surprise for me.

The competition at Rio was very tough. Can you describe it?

This day will live in my memory. I remember all its details; my anger and disappointment after losing the semi-final with the golden point. My dialogue with my coach who encouraged me, saying "don’t worry you will return to Egypt with the medal you dreamed of". I also thank my brother who was present with me at Rio. After my loss in the semi-finals he told me "don’t be sad you will win the bronze medal".

You were criticised for your defensive style after winning the final three games with the golden point.

We should bear in mind that my opponents in these three games were renowned players and we were familiar with each other. I had previously played against Spanish player Eva Gomez who won the silver medal six times. I won three games and she won the other three.

My coach's strategy was to be cautious and to wait until the best moment to attack, because there is no room for a mistake against those players. My opponents also played with the same strategy.

After Rio's bronze medal, what are your plans for the future?

I dream of a gold medal in Tokyo 2020 but this dream requires much preparation, similar to that of the past two years.

We have to also give more importance to psychological preparation. It is very important for the players. I believe that one of the things that helped me to win the Olympic medal was my mental preparation.

Several players were close to winning a medal but their efforts were not fruitful because they couldn't handle pressure.

We also have to adopt new techniques and tactics. If we manage to fulfill all these requirements, I believe that we will achieve more success, especially as we have a good generation of players.

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