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From the Archives: Egypt in the Olympics – Part I
Ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, KingFut’s Head of ‘Extra Time’ Youssef Wael digs deep into Egypt’s history at the largest international multi-sport event. The first installment of this series showcases Egypt’s first appearance and accomplishments at the Olympics.
Egyptians have come a long way in the Olympics. Ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Egyptian delegation is proud to consist of 122 athletes.
Egypt’s first participation in the Olympics was in 1912 in the 5th edition of the games in Stockholm, Sweden. Egypt’s most honorable Ahmed Hassanein was the first athlete to represent the Pharaohs in fencing. Hassanein was studying in Cambridge, England, and was a fencing champion, but he had no luck in the Olympics as he was eliminated from the first round.
Egypt had no champions in the next editions, only honorable participations, until 1928.
1928 – Pharaonic gold
Egypt’s first gold medal in the Olympics came through El Sayed Nosseir in men’s 82.5 kg weightlifting in 1928. Nosseir came up top Frenchman Louis Hostin by a close 2.5 points as Nosseir ended his tally with 355 points and Hostin with 352.5 points.
In that same event, Egypt won its second gold, by Ibrahim Moustafa in Greco-Roman Light-heavyweight wrestling. In the first round, Swedish defending champion Carl Westergren was eliminated by Finnish Onni Pellinen, who then lost to Moustafa in the fifth round. Moustafa went on to face German Adolf Rieger in the final, and the 24-year-old Egyptian was crowned champion after winning by decision.
1928 was an impressive year for Egypt, as diver Farid Simaika won two medals, one silver and one bronze. Simaika came first in Group 2 in the men’s 10-meter platform with 6 points and a 102.38 score to qualify to the final round. In the final, Simaika came second behind American Pete Desjardins. In the 3-meter platform, Simaika finished second in Group 2 and won a bronze in the final after coming behind second place Michael Galitzen and first place Pete Desjardins; both Americans.
The Egyptian national football team also finished fourth in the football competition that year. Egypt had beaten Turkey 7- 1 in the first round and Portugal 2-1 in the second, before taking a 6-0 loss from Argentina in the semi-finals and losing the 3rd place decider against Mexico 11-3.
1936 – Egypt lifts
Egypt excelled in weightlifting at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, winning two gold, one silver and two bronze medals. In the featherweight division Saleh Soliman came second while Ibrahim Shams finished just behind him. In the lightweight division, Anwar Mesbah won gold alongside Austrian Robert Fein, both scoring 342.5 points. Khadr El Touni was also a gold medalist in the middleweight division while Ibrahim Wasif came third in light-heavyweight, behind German Eugen Deutsch and first place Frenchman Louis Hostin.
The Pharaohs again established their dominance in weightlifting and Greco-Roman wrestling, winning 5 medals in the London summer Olympics. Mahmoud Fayad won Egypt’s first gold in the featherweight division in weightlifting while Ibrahim Shams came first and Attia Hamouda came second in middleweight. In Greco-Roman, Mohamed Hassan came second in the bantamweight division and Ibrahim Orabi finished third in the light-heavyweight.