Egyptian Olympians return home after making history

Egyptian Olympians return home after making history

Composition of medalists, from left to right: Seif Eissa, Mohammed Ibrahim El-Sayed, Hedaya Malak, Giana Farouk, Ahmed Elgendy, Feryal Abdelaziz

As the final bells and whistles ring for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, the long-awaited games draw to a close. From high dives to handball, the athletes have burnt the midnight oil by working for their personal glory – with heart, warmth and exemplary sportsmanship. After an exhausting year of bitter COVID-19-related delays and public quarantine, Egypt is once again welcoming some of its most iconic medalists.

Starting in late July and ending with a ceremony tonight, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics saw some of Egypt’s top talent reach their full potential. Others, just as promising, leave fans impatient and eager for their future successes. Thanks to several notable efforts, Egypt now has six 2020 Olympic medalists – among them, those who have engraved their names well in its sporting history.

Egypt has seen unforgettable performances in martial arts, especially historical karate moments performed by Feryal Abdelaziz, 22, and his equally impressive karateka Giana Farouk, 26 years.

Against Azerbaijani Irina Zaretska in a high-tension, high-stakes match, Abdelaziz was able to win the first gold medal in Egyptian history by a woman at the Nippon Budokan arena in central Tokyo. She took the lead with just half a minute on the clock, and the final buzzer sealed her victory on the afternoon of August 7. With an equally stunning execution, Farouk was the first to make history the day before, her bronze medal being the first ever in karate. In a thrilling display of skill against China’s Yin Xiaoyan, Farouk finished third in the women’s kumite -61 kg.

Taekwondo offered an equally promising opportunity for the Egyptian Olympians, with both Hedaya Malak (28 years old) and Seif Eissa (23 years old) winning bronze medals in their respective weight-sex categories. This is not an isolated victory, however, with Malak being the first Arab woman to win two consecutive medals between her bronze at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. In an interview with Ahram Online, Malak expresses: “[…] it is the result of five years of hard work since the end of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016. [I] I cannot express my feelings of happiness and joy to make my homeland and the Egyptian people happy and proud.

Sharing similar feelings, Eissa told beIN Sports Live that he “couldn’t describe” his feelings; “[i]It was not just a dream for me, ”he continues,“ it was the dream of all 100 million Egyptians. Both Malak and Eissa were greeted by masses upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, all echoing their names and commemorating their victories with the Egyptian flag in hand.

Jack-of-all-trades and master pentathlete for sure, Ahmed Elgendy won the silver medal in the modern men’s pentathlon. This is Arfica’s first-ever medal in multivariate sport and remains one of Egypt’s greatest victories at the Tokyo 2020 Games. With previous medals at the 2021 World Championships and the Youth Olympic Games in summer 2018, the athleticism and heart of Elgendy are certainly worth reverence.

Meanwhile, double U23 world champion and gold medalist of the 2019 African Games, Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed – or colloquially “Kesho” – won Egypt’s eighth Greco-Roman wrestling medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Defeating seasoned Korean wrestler Hasu Ryu, El-Sayed lost the semi-final by a tight margin of 6 -7 against the Ukrainian Parviz Nasibov. In an interview with Sky News, the 23-year-old notes that “[t]he qualifying journey was tough, ”but even so, his key performance is a testament to those long-standing efforts.

That said, Egypt’s pride is reflected in its medalists and non-medalists, with Egyptian Olympians competing in everything from table tennis to fencing, their wide range of skills saturating the 2020 Games. include Alaa Abu al-Qasim, Mohamed Hamza, and Mohamed El Sayed for their performances in fencing and fencing respectively. A memorable performance also comes with courtesy Omar Assar, who was considered one of the best table tennis players in modern Egyptian history.

In a similar vein, the Egyptian national handball team has qualified for the semi-finals, under the close supervision of coach Roberto García Parrondo and under the watchful eye of Egyptian fans, tucked away at home. It is the first African team to do so.

These victories constitute the largest number since Egypt’s participation in the 1928 Olympic Games, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Despite this, Egypt’s searing ambition eagerly awaits Paris 2024, to further solidify its athletes as a force to be reckoned with.

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