A week of wonder

Abeer Anwar , Tuesday 8 Jun 2021

Egyptian athletes garnered a host of medals in four highly competitive championships, reports Abeer Anwar

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With two gold medals and two bronze, Egypt finished in second place in the World Gymnastics Championship that took place in Egypt for the first time.

Egypt came after Ukraine which collected 11 medals -- five gold, two silver and four bronze -- while Hungary came in third place with one gold, two silver and one bronze

The tournament was held at Cairo International Stadium with the participation of more than 300 players representing 16 countries.

It was the first time that the World Championship was held in Africa but it wasn’t the only rule to be broken as Egypt claimed its first-ever gold medal in the competition.

Egyptian gymnastics stars Nancy Tamman and Ali Zahran clinched gold medals.

Tamman broke through first after earning 13.32 points in vaulting to be crowned champion, ahead of Hungary’s Bianka Schermann and Csenge Bácskay.

Speaking after her historic achievement, Tamman said: “I was exhausted all through the tournament as the competition was extremely tough, but I did my best until the last minute and I had a fighting spirit.

“I won first place before in the Mediterranean Games, and got first place in Africa twice in a row, but this is the first World Championship medal for me and for a girl in Egypt in general, which is definitely an achievement.

“I started playing gymnastics when I was four after my father suggested it; it is now my career. My dream now is going to the Olympics,” she added.

Tamman wasn’t the only Egyptian to clinch a gold medal as Zahran followed in her footsteps in the rings after scoring 14.70 points to beat second-placed Javidan Babayev of Azerbaijan and Ukraine’s Roman Vashchenko, who won the bronze medal.

Commenting on his achievement, Zahran said: “This is the first world championship to be held in Egypt, and my happiness cannot be described after winning this medal. We have worked hard and trained days and nights and I am very happy to be able to win the gold medal in my homeland and in front of my family and friends.”

In addition, two bronze medals were captured by Zeina Ibrahim in the uneven bars and Mandy Essam in the floor exercise.

Egyptian Youth and Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi said, “I am very proud that we have succeeded in holding the first ever world championship to be held in Africa and snaring two gold medals for the first time. I am very proud of the athletes and I thank them together with Dr Ihab Amin, head of the Egyptian Gymnastics Federation, for the great progress Egyptian gymnastics have made in recent years. I am also very proud that Egypt has become a major host of a number of international events in various fields in the midst of the very difficult circumstances of Covid-19, but we are always a pioneer and we will continue to be.”

On the other hand, Egypt concluded the African Taekwondo Championship with 14 medals to take first place in the standings.

The Egyptian taekwondo team is back to their favourite No 1 spot in Africa after deservingly clinching first place at the African Championship which was held in Dakar, Senegal. Egyptian athletes won an overall haul of 14 medals: three gold, five silver and six bronze medals.  

A total of 188 athletes representing 30 countries participated in the event. In the men’s competition, Egypt collected a total of 468 points after winning two gold medals and four silver, ahead of the Tunisian team which came second with 377 points after winning three gold medals. The Moroccans followed in third with 356 points after claiming one gold, one silver and four bronze medals.

In the women’s competition, Egypt came third behind Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire. The Moroccan women claimed 433 points from winning two gold, three silver and one bronze medal. The Ivorian team were runners-up with a total of 408 points after winning two gold and three silver medals, whereas the Egyptian ladies earned 311 points for winning one gold, one silver and six bronze medals.

To add to the Egyptian achievements, super star and Olympian Seif Eissa was named the championship’s Best Player in recognition of his overall outstanding performance and spectacular triumph.

President of the Egyptian Taekwondo Federation Amr Selim immediately congratulated the Egyptian delegation “for their distinguished world-class performance and remarkable achievement”. Selim sang the praises of his athletes and their coaches for regaining dominance of the sport, especially the federation’s foreign expert Oscar Salzar and Egyptian coaches Ossama Al-Sayed and Mohamed Magdi.   

Egypt is also playing host to the Arab Shooting Championship taking place from 1-12 June with the participation of 300 shooters representing 12 countries and hosted by the Shooting Club located in 6th of October City as well as the Maadi-based Olympic Centre, and inaugurated by Egyptian minister Sobhi who attended the opening ceremony.

So far, Egypt gunners were able to win the individual 10m rifle. Youssef Helmi won the gold, Mohamed Hamdi the silver and the Emirates’ Sultan Sale, the bronze. As for the team events, Egypt’s men collected the gold medal in the air pistol and in the air-rifle.

Meanwhile, the Arab Shooting Federation general assembly on Wednesday recommended President of the Kuwait Shooting Federation Duaij Al-Otaibi for the presidency of the Arab federation from 2021-2025. Al-Otaibi expressed his appreciation of the Arab federations’ presidents for their trust in Kuwait to lead the shooting federation in the Arab world for the upcoming period.

“This is a great responsibility. Kuwait will always do its best to be trustworthy to its brotherly countries to contribute in developing Arab shooting,” said Otaibi.   

In another sport, Egyptian equestrian is at its peak as international Egyptian show jumpers Nayel Nassar and Karim Al-Zoghbi continued their remarkable performances worldwide, winning gold and bronze at the Swiss Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old Nassar, who resides in Chicago, recently won the Grand Prix of the CSI4* competition in St Gallen, Switzerland. He deservingly won the two rounds of the competition with a clear round in 45.32 seconds, riding the BWP rider Igor van de Wittemoere.

It was an impressive victory for Nassar who displayed a thrilling second round performance, which was completed by 13 pairs as he remained ahead and beat the British rider Scott Brash with Hello Vincent and the German Philipp Weishaupt with Coby, who both finished second and third behind Nassar.

Nassar is a professional equestrian who first began riding at age five and jumping at 10. He qualified for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports Show Jumping World Cup Finals in 2013, 2014 and 2017, and the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014.

In the Longines CSIO 5* of St Gallen, Al-Zoghbi and Gallos galloped towards bronze honours in the tiebreaker, timed in 37.58 seconds.

Al-Zoghbi came behind two Swiss female horse riders, Elin Ott on Remix and Aurelia Loser on Haize Anaba.

The 44-year-old show jumper, who resides in Holland, has represented Egypt in two Olympics, the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio Games.

President of the Egyptian Equestrian Federation Hisham Hatab congratulated both horsemen for their outstanding international achievements in the sport.

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 10 June, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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