As many as nine Egyptian shooters might go to Beijing after dominating the African Shooting Championship in Cairo. Ghada Abdel-Kader reports
Click to view caption|
The Senegalese, Egyptian and South African men teams with their medals and trophies. Women of Tunisia and South Africa display their hard-won silverware
The Egyptians dominated the one-week event, winning nine first places out of 15 disciplines. That means up to nine Egyptian places in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games have been reserved. But how many Egyptians ultimately make the trip to China depends.
The general manager of the Egyptian Shooting Federation (ESF), Abdel-Hamid Ghaleb, said that while he was proud of the Egyptian achievement after claiming nine places in the Olympics, "this doesn't mean that the Egyptian federation will participate in all these nine events. The federation will decide which event will be presented in the Games and the athlete who will represent Egypt because we want to achieve the best result possible at the Olympics without risking our reputation. We will send shooters who deserve to go."
Egyptian gold medalists were Mohamed Abdellah in the 10m air rifle, Yasser El-Assi in the 10m air pistol, Mohamed Amer in 50m rifle three positions, Mohamed Hazem in the 50m rifle prone, Sami Abdel-Razek in the 50m pistol, Mohamed El-Sayed in the 25m rapid fire pistol, Adham Medhat in the trap event and Islam El-Deep in the skeet. Mona El-Hawari was the only Egyptian female to earn a gold medal, in the skeet event.
South African garnered four golds. Tessa Cloete won in the women's 10m air rifle, Esmari Van Reenen in the women's 50m rifle three positions, Diane Swanton in the women's trap and Byron Swanton in the men's double trap.
Tunisia claimed two gold medals by Olfa Cherni in the 10m and 25m women's air pistol.
Ghaleb said the sport had become more popular in Africa and that this year's event was the most successful with 12 participating countries as compared to five in the 2003 championship in Pretoria.
"Today we are 12th in the world which is a great improvement. I am proud to say we are professionals. We know our job and love our job. We do our job in the framework of professionalism and attraction."
Winner of the silver medals from Egypt were Peter Suleiman (10m air rifle), Amgad Hosen (50m rifle three positions), Mahmoud Abdel-Ali (50m pistol), Mahmoud Taha in (25m rapid fire pistol), Yasser El-Assi (25m centre fire), Mustafa Hamdi (skeet). In the women's events were Amira Abou-Shokka (skeet) and Shimaa Abdel-Latif (10m air rifle). Tunisia's, Habib El-Oued won a silver (10m air pistol) as did Hanan Ayachi (10m air pistol).
South Africa's Anne De Bruyn won the bronze medal (50m rifle three positions), Maria Swanepoel (25m pistol), Annemie Pretorius (50m rifle prone) and Maxwell Van Vuuren (50m rifle prone).
Moroccan marksman Mahjoub Zeroual claimed second place (trap), Gabi Ahrens from Namibia won silver in the women's trap, and Micheal Se Nicholson from Zimbabwe (double trap).
"It's my first time to participate in the African Championship," said Ahmed Shaaban, a captain in the Army, who took second place in 25m centre fire. "I dedicate it to my family."
Sami Abdel-Razek, a sergeant in the Army started shooting three years ago. "It's interesting, full of adventure and increases a sense of accuracy and discipline. Before any championship I practice every day."
Egyptian shooters who won bronze medals were Mohamed Sabri (10m air rifle), Dina Hosni in 10m air rifle, Mahmoud Abdel-Ali in 10m air pistol, Ragaei Emara (50m rifle three positions), Mohamed Amer (50m rifle prone), Walid El-Hoseini (50m pistol), Amir Salah (25m rapid fire pistol) Hassan Koraei (trap), Alaa Hassan (double trap) and Ahmed Shaaban (25m centre fire).
Tunisian shooters Olfa Bou-Aziz won bronze (10m air pistol), as did Ines Kalai (25m pistol). Moroccan shooter Yasmina Mesfioui took third place in skeet. South African Anne De Bruyn won silver (50m rifle prone women).
The 26-year--old Olfa Bou-Aziz said that she not only enjoyed the competition and was happy with her victory but that it was a great opportunity for her to make friends as well. Samira Tayathi, 30, said that this year's event saw many new talents and skills from great champions.