Friday,27 April, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)
Friday,27 April, 2018
Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Fair enough

So far Egypt is doing well at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Azerbaijan with 12 medals

Four days into the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, Egypt was in seventh place with an overall 12 medals -- four gold, three silver and five bronze. The medals came in shooting, weightlifting and karate. The gold medals were achieved by marksman Ahmed Kamar in trap shooting, Mohamed Ihab in the 77kg weightlifting, Yasmine Hamdi in the -55kg karate kumite and Rawya Hassan in 75kg weightlifting.

The silver medals went to Aya Hisham in kata karate, Afaf El-Hodhod in shooting and Ahmed Saad in the -62kg weightlifting. The bronze medals belonged to Ali Al-Sawi in -67kg karate, Mohamed Al-Otbi in -84 kg karate, Ahmed Al-Asfar in +84kg karate, Ziad Mohamed in karate kata and Nada Sayed in 68kg karate.

By the fourth day, Turkey was leading the standings at the 10-day event with a total of 96 medals: 36 gold, 33 silver and 27 bronze medals. Hosts Azerbaijan were second with 35 gold, 23 silver and 13 bronze while Iran came in third with 30 medals, seven of them gold.

Because of budget constraints and the country’s current economic hardships which Egyptian sports have been suffering from, particularly since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Egyptians went to Baku with a modest delegation. Only 26 male and female athletes are taking part in six of the 21 sports: shooting, para athletics, wushu, boxing, weightlifting and karate.

It was karate kid Yasmine Hamdi who opened the way for Egypt’s medals at the Games, winning a gold in her -55kg kumite karate. Marksman Ahmed Kamar claimed the second gold medal for Egypt in a tightly-contested men’s trap final on Sunday. Kamar hit an impressive 25 consecutive targets to leapfrog Turkey’s Orguzhan Tuzun into first place, never letting go of his leadership, and finishing with an impressive 42 points, three more than Tuzan who had to settle for second place. Nasser Ali Al Hemaidi of Qatar grabbed the bronze while Azeri shooter Ali Huseyinli finished in fifth place.

Following his victory, Egypt’s Kamar said the competition was tough especially with his biggest opponent from Turkey who was four points ahead. “However, I tried to focus as much as I could during the competition and managed to level the score and then take the lead and claim the gold. Taking part in the African Championships in Egypt last month was the best build-up for these Games. It gave me more experience,” said Kamar, who added he would dedicate his gold medal to his Italian coach who helped him improve his performance, the Egyptian National Olympic Committee, the Egyptian Shooting Federation and finally his club, Shooting Club. “They have all been such great supporters. I thank them so much.”

Weightlifter Saad said he was glad to win the silver medal because he only had three weeks to prepare for the Games. “It was very difficult. Only three weeks. I had to fight hard in training to be able to compete. I wanted badly to win a medal at these Games and I’m now happy I did because my main opponent was the Rio silver medalist from Indonesia. This competition was very hard with champions from Iran, Turkey, Indonesia and Kazakhstan. 

“I consider the Islamic Solidarity Games a smaller version of the World Championships which I am also looking forward to,” Saad said. A fifth place finisher at the Rio Games, Saad set a group record of 275kg in his -62kg weight category behind the gold medalist who scored 290kg while Saudi Arabia’s Faisal Al-Sollami set a record of 266kg.

In the 68kg women’s kumite event, Irina Zaretska won thanks to three consecutive yukos in the final minute against Turkey’s Eda Eltemur. Egypt’s Nada Sayed and Jordan’s Hala Traish both claimed bronze. In the men’s, Aykhan Mamayev, who had cruised past his earlier opponents 8-0, 3-1, 3-1, maintained his winning ways as he dominated Alparslan Yamanoglu of Turkey in the -84kg final to thunderous applause after a well-placed yuko. Abdulaziz Ataboev of Uzbekistan and Mohamed Elkotbi of Egypt were joint third.

The highlight of the event was the achievement of Olympic weightlifter Mohamed Ihab who claimed the gold medal as he eased to victory in the men’s under-77 kilogram category in Baku on Tuesday to claim his country’s fourth gold of the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.

Ihab was in a class of his own throughout the event, which he won with a Games record total of 348 kg, 28 kg clear of the rest of the field. He was always likely to be too good for his fellow competitors as his starting weights were significantly higher, and he began his bid for the title after all the other athletes had already bowed out of the snatch.

The 27-year-old, who broke the African snatch record while winning bronze at last summer’s Rio Olympics, made his first attempt at 152 kg look simple to set a new Solidarity Games best. He extended that mark by another six kilograms, which put him 12kg clear of nearest rival Celil Erdogdu going into the clean and jerk.

One Iraqi supporter almost exploded in delight, to the amusement of the arena, when Ahmed Farooq Ghulam Al-Hussein all but secured a medal with a lift of 178 kg. But Ihab stepped up knowing that a successful 180-kg opening clean and jerk would secure gold and more Games records. He picked that weight up without breaking sweat, before giving the crowd even more to cheer by lifting 190 kg. Al-Hussein ended up with the silver, while Turkey’s Erdogdu completed the podium.

The Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games features athletes from every one of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation’s (ISSF) 57 member nations. Under the motto ‘Solidarity is our strength’, athletes are currently competing in 21 sports from 12 to 22 May.

The Islamic Solidarity Games is a multinational, multi-sport event held by the ISSF. Their first event was held in 2005 in Saudi Arabia. The second, originally scheduled in October 2009 in Iran, was later re-scheduled for April 2010 but then cancelled. The third Games took place in 2013 in Indonesia. Azerbaijan was delighted when the eighth General Assembly of ISSF, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, chose Baku to be the host city of the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017. The ISSF is responsible for the direction and control of the Islamic Solidarity Games.

In October 2012 the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan submitted its bid for the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games during the 18th Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation meeting held in Jeddah. Baku was awarded the event during the General Assembly of ISSF in 2013 also held in Jeddah. All 56 members of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation participated in the Games. 

Due to the suspension of the Kuwait Olympic Committee from the Solidarity Games as well as the International Olympic Committee because of government interference, athletes from Kuwait would have participated in the Games as independent ISSF athletes, under the ISSF flag. Athletes and coaches would have been accredited by the ISSF. They would wear ISSF uniforms and any medals won would be done so under the ISSF banner. However, Libya, Sudan and Kuwaiti athletes who were scheduled to compete under the ISSF banner withdrew from the Games a day before the opening ceremony.

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