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From the Archives: Egypt in the Olympics – Part II
1952: A century of athletes
In Helsinki, Egypt crossed the one-hundred participant mark for the first time, with 106 athletes (all men) participating in 14 different sports. However, the Egyptian delegation managed only one medal as Abdel-Aal Rashed won bronze in Greco-Roman wrestling. Rashed competed in the featherweight class, where he lost in the fourth round clash against Hungary’s Polyak, who claimed silver.
1960: First Boxing medal
In 1960 Egypt went to Rome as the United Arab Republic, jointly with Syria. A total of 74 athletes, almost all were from Egypt, participated in 12 sports. Osman El-Sayed added yet another Greco-Roman wrestling medal to Egypt’s Olympic record as he won silver in the flyweight category. El-Sayed won his first three games before losing in the fourth round to Kochergin of the Soviet Union. He was then able to claim Silver after victory over Japanese Takashi Hirata in the fifth and final round.
Egypt won one more medal at these games and it was its first ever Boxing medal at the Olympics. Abdel Moneim El-Guindi was an amateur boxer who won bronze in the flyweight category. El Guindi defeated Humberto Barrera of United States 4-1 in the quarter finals, before losing the semi-final with the same score to eventual Gold medallist Gyula Török of Hungary.
After 1960 Egypt waited 24 years until the next Olympic medal, in 1984. However, it is worth noting that Egypt boycotted the Olympics twice in that period. In 1976 Egypt was part of an African boycott of the Montreal games after the International Olympic Committee, IOC refused to ban New Zealand. Almost all sovereign African nations boycotted the event in protest against the participation of New Zealand, whose Rugby team had maintained sporting ties with South Africa’s apartheid regime. In 1980 Egypt was part of a second boycott, this time led by the United States. The US initiated a large boycott of the Olympics, held in Moscow, in protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
1984: Rashwan’s fair play
Egypt returned to the Olympics in 1984 with its largest delegation at the time. Six women were part of a total of 114 athletes who competed in 15 sports. Mohamed Ali Rashwan won Egypt’s only medal at the event, managing a silver in Judo. However, Rashwan made the headlines at the time for a different reason. He is arguably one of the most famous Egyptians athletes to ever participate in the Olympics after winning the international fair-play award in 1984. Rashwan’s opponent in the gold medal game Yasuhiro Yamashita had torn his right calf muscle in a previous game. The Egyptian stated that he did not aim for Yamashita’s right leg during the match as he did not regard that as fair-play.
Rashwan later went on to win silver medals at both the 1985 and 1987 World Judo Championships.