Al-Ahram Weekly On-line   Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
28 Sep. - 4 Oct. 2000
Issue No. 501
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Three for the Arabs

Army officer Fehaid Al-Dihani grabbed a first-ever Olympic medal for Kuwait on the fifth day of the 16-day long event when he won a bronze in the men's shooting double trap event.

The 33-year-old Al-Dihani made a run at Britain's Richard Faulds and Australia's Russell Mark over the final shots but came up short 186 to 187, with the Briton going on to take the gold in a shoot-off.

"I am very happy to win Kuwait's first ever Olympic medal," Al-Dihani said. "There are not very many Kuwaiti supporters here but the whole Kuwaiti team is here to support me." It was a third Olympics appearance for the Kuwaiti who comes from a family steeped in the traditions of hunting. He was voted Asian athlete of the year in 1994.

Al-Dihani finished sixth in the 1998 double trap world championships in Barcelona and won a bronze medal in the same event the following year in Tampere, Finland. His progress through the ranks was again underlined this year when he won the New Delhi leg of the World Shotgun Cup in the double trap.

Al-Dihani's medal comes 26 years after Kuwait first took part in the Olympics. Prior to Sydney, the best Kuwaiti performance came in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when they lifted a bronze in tae kwon-do, but it was only a demonstration sport at the time.

At the 1980 Moscow Games, the then Asian soccer champions Kuwait reached the quarter-finals before crashing out.

Earlier, Kuwaiti shooter Khaled Al-Mudhaf came close to clinching an Olympic medal, finishing fourth in the men's trap competition. Al-Mudhaf, 22, hit 139 dishes, just one dish behind third place Italian Giovanni Pellielo who won the bronze medal.

Algeria's Abdel-Rahman Hammad, 23, added another bronze medal for the Arabs in the high jump with a leap of 2.32 metres. Hammad set an African record of 2.34 metres to win the African title in July.

Qatar made it three bronze after Assad Said Seif snatched a bronze medal in the 105 kg category by lifting 420 kgs. Seif, 21, of Bulgarian origin, was granted Qatari citizenship earlier this year. Hussein Tavakoli from Iran, 22, lifted 425 kgs to win the gold medal. Alan Tsagaev of Bulgaria snatched the silver, lifting 422.5 kgs. The bronze added to Qatar's Olympic success overall. In Barcelona, Mohamed Sleiman won the bronze medal in the 1,500-metres.

In one of the biggest disappointments for the Arabs, reigning heptathlon gold medallist Ghada Shouaa of Syria became the latest high-profile champion to crash out of the Olympics when she broke down in the 100-metre hurdles.

Shouaa, the only Olympic gold medallist in Syrian history and also the 1995 world champion, saw her title defence end almost before it had begun, hobbling over to the side of the track before falling to the floor clutching at her injured leg in the fourth heat of the day.

Shouaa, 28, is the third champion from Atlanta not to survive the early stages in Sydney. On Friday night, both Donovan Bailey, in the men's 100 metres, and high jumper Charles Austin, saw their title defences come to an abrupt end.

 
Algeria's Abdel-Rahman Hammad takes the bronze medal in the high jump
In women's synchronised 3m springboard, Vera Ilina and Ioulia Pakhalina twisted and turned for the gold Baya Rahouli of Algeria comes fifth in the triple jump

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