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Flexing bicepsBy Eman Abdel-Moeti
For the third consecutive year, Egypt's bodybuilders powered their way to the top of the African championship, routing the opposition with 96 points and 16 medals won in the 11-nation tournament. Uganda came in second with 25 points and Kenya third with 15.
This year's event, staged in Assiut, saw an unprecedented number of entries, 55 players. In comparison, eight countries participated in last year's championship held in Al-Arish.
Competitors showed off their bodies beautiful as they competed for 18 gold medals. South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Libya, which were expected to pose the biggest threat to Egypt, were replaced instead by up and coming Uganda and Kenya.
The championship, the third of its kind, was held purposely in Assiut, site of several terrorist acts over the past few years. "We intend to host all African and Arab bodybuilding championships in Upper Egypt to promote sports and tourism in this poorly publicised part of Egypt," Maher El-Ashry, of the Egyptian bodybuilding federation, said. Federation head Adel Fahim called the championship the best so far since many promising new talents had appeared.
Cheered on by 3,000 spectators, the Egyptians, many of them newcomers to the national team, made short work of their opponents. In the bantamweight category, Egypt's Ahmed Antar won the gold medal while countryman Mohamed El-Shater took the silver. Kenyan John Addur won the bronze, preventing an Egyptian sweep.
In the lightweight division, however, it was an all-Egyptian affair as Yassin El-Toukhi won the gold, Sayed Saleh the silver and Mohamed Moussa the bronze.
The scenario was repeated in the light middleweight division where Tamer El-Shahat bagged the gold, Mohamed Abbass won the silver, while Mohamed Bassiouni pocketed the bronze.
In the middleweight, Mohamed Khalifa won the gold, Ahmed Afifi the silver and Ahmed Abdel-Fattah the bronze.
In the light heavyweight, Hussein Gabu took the gold, Hussein Zaki the silver and South African Kriaku Nanurin the bronze.
In the heavyweight class, again it was 1-2-3 for Egypt. Tarek Sotuhi won the gold, Tareq Dakrury the silver and Mohamed Khadrawy the bronze.
Representatives from the International Bodybuilding Federation attended the championship and expressed their satisfaction with its organisation and the accommodations in Assiut. Members were taken on a tour of ancient monuments, temples and museums in the city, saying they enjoyed the landscape and warm weather.