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From the Archives: Egypt in the Olympics – Part III
With days to go until the 2016 Olympics commence in Rio de Janeiro, KingFut continues its review of Egypt’s history in the Olympics during a period in which the Pharaohs succeeded to add eight new medals in five different sports. Don’t forget to check out Part I (here) and Part II (here)!
From the 1988 Seoul Olympics to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Egyptians witnessed a period of drought from the athletes, who couldn’t manage to achieve a single medal in the four Olympic events. As a result, the Pharaohs were keen to see their flag raised high again in the biggest sports event in the world.
2004: The Pharaohs are back
In the land of Zeus and Athens, the Egyptians came back stronger than ever, gaining 5 Olympic medals for the first time since the 1948 London Olympics. The 2004 Athens Olympics witnessed the rebirth of sports such as Boxing and Wrestling.
Egypt’s first medal in the Olympics came courtesy of Tamer Bayoumi, who won the bronze medal in Taekwondo after defeating Juan Antonio Ramos of Spain (7-1). Bayoumi’s journey featured very tough opponents, beating Brazilian Marcelo Ferrira (10-2) in the round of 16 and Greece’s Michail Mouroustos (8-2) in the quarterfinal, before losing to Taiwanese Chu Mu-yen in the semifinal.
That was not quite enough for the Egyptians, who watched on in awe as Karam Gaber heroically won Egypt’s first gold medal since the 1948 London Olympics. Gaber competed in the Greco-Roman wrestling competition, digging his way through to the final after defeating Marek Sitnik of Poland (3-0), Georgios Koutsioumpas of Greece (3-1) and Asset Mambetov of Kazakhstan in the elimination pool. The Egyptian qualified to the semifinal facing the 2002 world champion Mehmet Ozal of Turkey; Gaber managed to defeat Ozal 3-0 and qualify to the final to secure a second medal for the Egyptians.
Gaber didn’t disappoint the thousands of Egyptians who were nervously watching on, and defeated Georgian Ramaz Nozadze (3-1) to win Egypt’s second medal in the tournament.
Bayoumi and Gaber’s performances aroused the spirit in many Egyptian athletes who were still competing in the Olympics, especially the boxers, who managed to capture three other medals for the Egyptians.
In the Boxing competition, Egypt sent a record six boxers, of which three – Ahmed El-Shamy, Mohamed El-Baz and Mohamed Reda – won medals.
On his way in the light heavyweight class, El-Shamy managed to defeat the Turkmenistan’s Shurbat Kurbanov (40-12), Canada’s Trevor Stewardson (38-22) and Elias Pavlidis of Greece by the referee’s decision, before losing to Belarus’ Magomed Aripgadjiev in the semifinal (20-23) and winning a bronze medal.
In the heavyweight class, Mohamed El-Sayed El-Baz’s journey was not an easy one at the beginning, after tying with the Uzbek Igor Alborov (18-18), before winning by the judges decision and advancing to the quarterfinal. ‘Atta’ then managed to overcome the Australian Adam Forsyth after beating him (27-12); however, His journey came to an end after the medical tests showed that he had a broken arm, which led to him losing the semifinal to the Belarus Viktar Zuyev and winning a bronze medal.
The super heavyweight class featured a heartbreaking moment for all Egyptians during its final minutes; Egypt came very close to achieving a second gold medal and its first ever in Boxing, as Mohamed Reda made his way to the final after defeating Cameroonian Carlos Takam (32-19), Lithuanian Jaroslavas Jaksto (19-11) and Cuban Michel Lopez (18-16). However, Reda suffered from an injury in his arm that led to a walkover in the final against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, and a silver medal.
2008: Disappointment in Beijing
After the Pharaohs’ excelling performance in 2004, the Egyptians had very high hopes to achieve more medals in Beijing. However, Egypt’s trip to Beijing ended with only bronze medal in Judo, achieved by Hesham Mesbah.
Mesbah’s achievement was the only bright side for the Egyptians in Beijing; nevertheless, his journey was a tough one with many difficult opponents. The Egyptian secured Egypt’s second-ever medal in Judo after defeating Frenchman Yves-Matthieu Dafreville.
2012: First ever Fencing medal
From many individuals’ point of view, the 2012 London Olympics was not considered to be a successful one; yet, it witnessed a first-time achievement not only in Egypt, but in Africa.
Alaa El-Din Abou El-Kassem made history in London, becoming the first Egyptian and African to ever win a medal in Fencing. The Egyptian Pharaoh achieved the impossible after defeating many notable fencing figures during his journey to the final. Abou El-Kassem overcame American Miles Chamley-Watson (15-10) in the round of 16, before defeating Peter Joppich of Germany (15-10) in the quarterfinal. The Egyptian’s biggest result came when he managed to knock out World Champion Andrea Cassara of Italy, after beating him 15-10.
The 25-year-old came close to winning the final against Sheng Lei of China, but the latter got the upper hand to win 15-13, leaving the silver medal to Abou El-Kassem, who made millions of Egyptian proud.
Egypt’s second medal in London was earned by the prolific Karam Gaber, arguably one of Egypt’s legendary athletes, who added his second medal in just three Olympic participations. The Egyptian dropped his weight from the 96kg class to the 84kg one.
Gaber made his way to the final, knocking out Croatian Nenad Zugaj (3-1), Frenchman Melounin Noumonvi (3-1) and Pole Damian Janikowski (3-1). However, Gaber could not defeat Alan Khugayev of Russia, losing 3-0 to him and the final and clinching the silver medal.
Egypt will enter the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with a record 122 athletes, competing in 22 different sports. The Pharaohs seem to be more adamant than ever on making millions of Egyptians – who are longing for new records – proud. KingFut wishes all of the Egyptian athletes good luck in Brazil!