Saturday,16 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1279, (21 - 27 January 2016)
Saturday,16 December, 2017
Issue 1279, (21 - 27 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

First squad in Rio

Volleyball became Egypt’s first team sport going to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, reports Abeer Anwar

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Egyptian men’s volleyball team is going to the Rio Olympics after winning the gold at the Men’s African Olympic qualification tournament final in Elende Hall in Brazzaville, Congo.

Only seven teams participated in the tournament after 20 teams declined to attend.

The team claimed their fourth Olympic Games ticket in their history following their pulsating victory against arch rivals Tunisia 3-2 (25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 19-25, 16-14) in their final contender.

All hearts were beating and Egyptians were holding their breath with every back and forth ball. The final was a battle lasting 133 minutes of thrills and spills from both sides. After Egypt took the first set 25-19, Tunisia clawed their way back on the strength of libero Hichem Kaabi to win the second set 25-20. Egyptian superstar Ahmed Salah came back with his left handed spikes to lead Egypt to the third set 25-18 before Tunisia rebounded for the second time to take the fourth 25-19. The tiebreaker extended the action, point by point, till 14-14 when Egypt settled the tough faceoff 16-14.

Egypt went to the final after beating Cameroon in the semi-final 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-19).

Algeria claimed third place after they topped Cameroon 3-2 (18-25, 26-24, 25-13, 18-25, 15-13) in an epic encounter to keep their dreams of an Olympic ticket alive, along with second ranked Tunisia.

Egypt joins Argentina, Russia, Cuba, the US and Brazil as the Rio qualifying teams so far. Tunisia will face third place Algeria in the World Olympic qualifiers in Tokyo in May.

The volleyball squad thus became Egypt’s first team to qualify to the Rio Olympics. They did it in style, winning the final of the 2015 Men’s African Nations Championship 3-0, the World Cup encounter in Japan 3-2 and their first round Pool A match 3-0 in the current Olympic qualifier.

“I am very happy with the team’s performance,” Egypt’s coach Nehad Shehata, one of its key players before retirement, said after the game. “The players were up to the challenge and they did their best to qualify so it’s a deserved qualification and I think that they will be able to compete for a medal in the Olympics. We have the best volleyball players in Africa now and we have to make use of such a golden opportunity.”

Egypt’s volleyball team made it to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles 1984, Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008. Tunisia went six times, in 1972 Munich, 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul, 1996 Atlanta, 2004 Athens and in 2012 London.

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