Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Paddle solo

 Not a popular sport in Egypt, kayaking is nevertheless enjoyable, Ghada Abdel-Kader reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

At the 2012 Olympic Games in August, Mustafa Mansour was the first kayaker to represent Egypt at the world’s most prestigious sports event.  
In London, Mansour, who finished seventh, took part in the men’s 20m sprint single (K1).
Mansour, 23, told Al-Ahram Weekly that when he travelled to the Olympics he carried no hopes for any medals. “I didn’t expect to win any medal. I think it is a dream for any athlete just to go to the Olympics. It was very difficult for me to be the only kayak representative from Egypt but I did my best.  
“I didn’t have enough time to prepare for the Olympics. I was told I would enter only four months before the Games started.”
Mansour said nobody helps him officially. “I do everything by myself. I don’t even have a coach.
“Five years ago, kayaking was unknown in Egypt. The kayak boats were in the garage of the Egyptian Rowing Federation. We didn’t even know how to practice on them. At that time, we had a coach who started to train us on kayaking as a hobby but unfortunately, he travelled abroad,” Mansour said.
When Mansour took up the sport, he trained on rowing for two months at the Cairo University Rowing Club, after which he shifted from rowing to kayaking. “Rowing needs a certain physical size. I was not tall enough.”
In addition to kayaking, Mansour plays boxing, swimming and football. “I was attracted to the shape of boats. I did some research on the Internet. I started reading about kayaks and found it interesting.”
He trained for three years at the Cairo University Rowing Club before moving to the Police Officers Rowing Club where he spent four years training on his own.
“At that time there were no kayak coaches in Egypt. Nevertheless, the Egyptian kayak team became a reality. The International Canoe Federation (ICF) supported us and every year I was invited to travel to participate in a championship or a training camp abroad.”
Mansour recently graduated from the Faculty of Commerce in Cairo University but has no time to look for a job. “The sport is taking all my time.”    “Kayak is one of the hardest sports. It involves power, strength, speed and endurance as well as balance and coordination. A kayaker needs to train in weightlifting, running and swimming besides daily kayaking.”
Kayaking is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle.
Mansour’s daily routine includes waking up at 5am, training at 6am for seven hours daily with a two- hour break. Then, he goes to the gym or swims. “I only have one day off.”
In order to remain in good shape, Mansour corresponds with coaches and experts in Europe. “I have good relations abroad at the ICF. Sometimes I travel and sometimes we correspond and they send me their feedback. Even the ICF president responds to my inquiries.”
Mansour’s achievements include a third place finish at the International Nile Regatta in Luxor 2011 in the1000m and the 500m and two gold medals at the Nationals Kayak Championship, silver medal at the 2nd Arab Championship in Tunisia 2010, in the single (K1) 500m and 2000m and bronze medals in the (K1)200m, double (K2) 500m, double(K2) 200m and double (K2) 500m events. His best achievement was a gold medal in men’s single (K1) 1000m at the World University Championships of 2010.
At the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Italy, he ended seventh, while at the first Arab Championship, he won a silver medal in the doubles (K2) 200m and bronze in the single (K1) 500m and double (K2)1000m.
In 2009, Mansour was awarded a coaching certificate from the International Canoe Federation.
At the Games, he competed in both the men’s kayak single (K1) in 1,000 metres and 200 metres events. In the 200m heat two, he ranked seventh, clocking 40.507 while he clocked 40:09.651 in the 1000m heat two while also finishing seventh.
Mansour’s participation in the Olympics was based on his results at the 10th All-Africa Games held in 2011 in Maputo, Mozambique where he took fifth place in the final of the 1000m. But it was the bronze medal he won at the 200m (K1) that gave him a berth in London.
Generally, Mansour practices single (K1) 500m, 1000m, double (K2) 200m and 1000m.

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