26 Aug. - 1 Sep. 1999
Issue No. 444
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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135 medals and countingBy Abeer Anwar
Egypt has turned the Pan-Arab Games into a one-country show, making mince meat of its opponents. As of Sunday, the country's mighty sporting machine had racked up 135 medals, a light year ahead of its closest challenger, second-place Tunisia, which had collected 78. With 53 gold medals, the country had more than double the Tunisian figure of 25. There was hardly an event in which the Egyptians did not figure in, as the following breakdown illustrates.
The women's team of Samar and Farah El-Garatly, Amany Gamal, Nevine Adel, Dalal Naguib and Nirvana Zaher notched the gold medal in the team event with 103.35 points, followed by Morocco with 97.40 and Jordan with 92.40. Manager Abdel-Raouf El-Hagrasy described the players' performance as excellent, despite what he said were judging mistakes. "I am still happy with the team's gold medal," El-Hagrasy said. "It's enough that the head of the International Gymnastics Federation praised the Egyptian performance, especially that of Naguib."
In the individual events, Egypt collected four gold, one silver and two bronze medals. On the parallel beam, Egypt's Amany Gamaleddin won the gold with 8.88 points. In the floor exercises, Dalal Naguib also collected the gold with 9.20 points and added a silver medal on the horse, coming second after Morocco, and a bronze in the balance beam with 8.3 points. Walid Saad took the gold in the men's horse event with 9.35 points while teammate Raouf Abdel-Karim came second with nine points. In the horse vault, Abdel-Raouf won the gold with 9.1 points.
Rania Elwani on her way to win the gold medal in the 200m individual medley
Egypt's golden girl, Rania Elwani, notched eight gold medals single-handedly. In the 100m freestyle, the 22-year-old clocked 58.21 seconds. Her second gold came in the 200m freestyle and the third in the 50m butterfly, in which she set a new Arab record of 29.96 seconds. Elwani's fourth gold medal came in the 100m backstroke, cutting the distance in 1.08.07. The fifth came in the 4x100m freestyle relay as Elwani and teammates May Rifaat, Amina Abdel-Hafez and Yasmine Abul Ezz were timed at 4.03.73. Elwani's sixth gold was in the 50m backstroke, timed at 31.41 seconds. The seventh was in the 200m medley, which she finished in 2.28.31. Elwani and company chalked up a win in the 4x100m medley for the great swimmer's eighth gold medal. Elwani did leave some medals for others. Olivia Naguib took the gold medal in the 200m butterfly, finishing in 2.23.37. Maha El-Merghani came third in the 800m freestyle. Haytham Hazem won two silver medals in the 50m and 100m backstroke. The women added another gold to the list, in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Hani El-Tair won the gold in the men's 200m butterfly and added a silver in the 200m freestyle. El-Tair won a second gold in the 400m freestyle, finishing in 4.4.47 minutes and a second silver in the 1500m freestyle. Mohamed Hefny won the silver in the 100m breaststroke. In the 200m breast, Ayman Khatab came first in 2.23.32. minutes. In the 200m freestyle, Ihab El-Tair took second place and the silver with a time of 1.56.41 minutes. Mohamed Elwani, Hani El-Tair, Ahmed Mokhtar and Tamer Zeinhom won two gold medals in the 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m relay, setting a new Arab record in the latter, 7.29.42 minutes, breaking their own record of 7.49.85 minutes. Zeinhom added a third gold medal in the 50m butterfly, finishing the race in 25.64 seconds and a silver in the 100m freestyle, finishing in 53 seconds. Zeinhom's fourth gold was registered in the 100m butterfly as he cut the race in 56.56 seconds. He also added a silver to his treasure chest in the 50m freestyle, finishing in 23 seconds. In the 50m backstroke, Shamseddin Mahmoud came first, setting a new Arab record of 30.14 seconds. In the 100m breaststroke, Reham El-Hawari won the bronze.
The event began shakily when several countries, including Egypt, threatened to walk out following Qatar's decision to enter three world class Bulgarian weightlifters. The weightlifters had recently been given Qatari passports but participating countries protested, saying that by law, four years were needed before the weightlifters could be considered Qatari nationals. The row was settled when Qatar withdrew from the competition. Meanwhile, Egypt's Ali Hamid won three gold medals in the 56kg weight category, setting a new Arab record in the process by lifting 140kg, five kilogrammes more than the previous record. Hamid added a second gold in the snatch with a heave of 107.5kg. In the jerk he lifted 247.5kg for his third gold. In 69kg, Ahmed Samir won the jerk gold medal, lifting 172.5kg. In 77kg, Rifaat Galal won two silver medals in the jerk. In 85kg, Adel-Abdel Moaaz added three bronze medals to the list, in the jerk, snatch and total points. In 68kg, Ahmed Othman collected the gold in the jerk after lifting 150kg and a silver after lifting 262.5kg in total. In the over 105kg category, Hani Ibrahim won the gold medal in the snatch with 202.5kg while Hani Mustafa took the silver in the same event, snatching 160kg. In 105kg, Tharwat El-Bendary collected three gold medals in the snatch, jerk and total. In the jerk, El-Bendary set a new Arab record of 200kg, breaking the previous record by an outstanding 43 kilogrammes. In 94kg, Ahmed Mustafa took two silver medals in the snatch and a bronze in the jerk.
Team gold went to Egypt, whose players clocked 1 hour and 51 minutes in the 82-kilometre event. In the individuals, Egypt also took the gold and silver medals in the 42-kilometre anti-clockwise race. Mohamed Abdel-Fattah finished first and teammate Khaled Saad came second. Egypt also made it three in a row in the 150-kilometre individual race as Walid Abbas came first, cutting the distance in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Sayed El-Masri came second and Amr El-Nadi third.
Above left: Jordan men team trying to attack in the final basketball match Above right: Egyptian women team beating Jordan 69-51 snatching the silver medal Above: King Abdullah II of Jordan paying a visit to Egyptian squash player Eman El-Amir in Amman Hospital Left: King Abdullah II of Jordan presenting the gold medal to Ahmed Abul-Fetouh, Egypt's basketball team captain
The men beat Jordan 97-68 to take the gold medal, but the women had to settle for the silver medal after losing to Tunisia 71-74.
Egypt finished runners-up to the United Arab Emirates which took first place in the trap team event with 225 points. In the double skeet, Egypt was back in form, taking the gold medal. In the individuals of the same event, Ayman Mazhar finished first while teammate Gaber Hafez collected the bronze. In the individual event of the trap, Tarek Thabet wound up in third, hitting 136 targets. In the doubletrap event, Mustafa Hamdi won the gold followed by teammate Khaled Thabet who collected the silver. In the team's double trap event, Egypt again took the gold. The women won the team air pistol event. In the individuals of the same event, Egypt completed a sweep as Hebatallah Sharafeddin came first with 460 points, Nesreen El-Sabahi second and Nermine El-Samahi third.
The talk in this sport was not the medals won, but the bus crash which injured four of Egypt's female stars. The girls, fresh from finishing 1-2-3 in the medal count, were on a sightseeing tour in Jordan when their bus overturned. The driver was killed instantly while the players -- Nesreen Nashaat, Eman El-Amir, Ingy Khairallah and Omnia Abdel-Qawi -- were seriously injured and taken to hospital. There, they were visited by Jordan's King Abdullah and his wife, Queen Rania, as well as by other members of the royal family. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent a medical team to Jordan and a private plane flew the girls back to Egypt where they were taken to the Maadi Armed Forces Hospital. Another team, comprising Egypt's first team players Salma Shabana, Maha Zein and May Hegazy, flew to Amman to replace the injured girls. Before the mishap, the four girls, newly-crowned as world junior champions, had swept their event at the Pan-Arab Games. Khairallah had beaten teammate El-Amir 3-0 for the gold medal while Abdel-Qawi had clinched the bronze.
Anwar El-Amawi won a gold medal in the 65kg category, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz pocketed another gold in 70kg while El-Shahat Mabrouk took the third gold in 90kg. Ahmed Hamed and Ahmed Abdel-Salam won silver in the 70kg and 75kg divisions.
The men won a silver in the team event, coming second to Saudi Arabia. In the individual event, Egypt's Andrea Sakakini won a silver and finished second in the Grand Prix.
Egypt's Nora Hassan, Heba Hanafi, Bassel El-Gharabawi and Islam Rashwan collected four gold medals in 72kg, 78kg, 100kg and over 100kg. Yasser Abdel-Rahman collected the bronze in 57kg, Haitham El-Husseini the silver in 73kg and Yomna Maged the bronze in 57kg.
Surprisingly, no gold medals for Egypt here. In the 52kg category, Egypt's Rabea Gamil collected the silver medal. Mohamed Abdu took the bronze in the 60kg division, Gamil Arafa the silver in 76kg, Gamal Ghanem the silver in 80kg, Lutfi Mohamed the silver in 84kg and Amr Ahmed the bronze in 95kg.
The women took the bronze medal in the team event.