Monday,23 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)
Monday,23 July, 2018
Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Storm in a pool

Farida Othman became the first Egyptian to win a medal in the World Swimming Championships, reports Inas Mazhar


#Farida Osman # Farida Osman # Farida Osman
# # #

The new golden fish of Egyptian swimming, Farida Osman, had a personal best in the 50 metres butterfly final, placing third in a time of 25.39 secs in the World Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary. By receiving her bronze medal, Osman became the first Egyptian to win a world swimming medal of any colour.

The 22-year-old made history for her country and herself. She not only scored a personal best in the 50m butterfly but also broke her own African record. Osman had owned the continental record in this event since 2013 and has broken it on several different occasions, including twice the day before the race, during the heats.

Osman’s mark now means that the African record in this event is actually faster than that of the Americas, which is rare but not unprecedented, as South Africa broke the world record in the 4×100 free in 2004.

Only three African swimmers earned medals in Budapest: Osman and South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh and Chad Le Clos.

Osman also holds the African record in the 100 butterfly which she set at last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Earlier this week, Othman finished 25th in the prelims of the 100 free, and then just missed making the semis in the 100 fly.

But of her bronze medal win in Budapest she wrote on her official Facebook page right after her victory: “I am still in shock this actually happened! I am humbled and honoured to have represented Egypt in this historic moment for me, the sport and the country. This has been a dream for me and I hope this is just the beginning! I would like to thank my coach Teri McKeever for helping me along this journey and my whole California Women’s Swimming & Diving family, and the Egyptian Swimming Federation. Most importantly, I would like to thank everyone for showing me the love and support before, during and after the race. I could really feel it all last night! Here’s to many more in the future.”

“This is a great achievement for Egyptian swimming,” said Yasser Idris, president of the Egyptian Swimming Federation. “Osman was remarkable in her performances since the heats. Watching her reach the semis, I had a feeling she could make it to the podium. I was full of optimism. And she did it for herself and for her country. She made us all proud,” Idris added.

Osman, born on 18 January 1995, is an American-born competitive swimmer who has represented Egypt in international championships. An All-Africa Games gold medalist and Egyptian national champion and record holder, she competes in the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke sprint events. Osman holds the senior national records for all the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke sprint events, as well as an African record and title in the 50m butterfly at 27.28s. Othman won the 50m butterfly event in a world junior championship record time of 26.69s at the third FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Lima, Peru, earning the first ever junior world medal for Egypt.

Osman started swimming at the age of five in Gezira Sporting Club along with her brother Ahmed. Later, she took a break from swimming to pursue synchronised swimming which was her passion. At 11, she returned to swimming and won all 50m and 100m freestyle and butterfly national titles, earning the “Best Swimmer” trophy. At the age of 12, she was selected to represent Egypt at the Pan-Arab Games held in 2007 in Cairo. She was then the youngest athlete on the team and participated in the 50m, 100m freestyle and the 50m and 100m butterfly. Osman broke the Arab record for the 50m butterfly, becoming the youngest Arab athlete to ever win the event and break the record. But she finished only sixth in the 100m butterfly.

Earlier in the same year Osman competed at the All-Africa Games in Algeria and finished fifth in the 50m butterfly with a time of 28.95, the reason for her selection to the Pan-Arab Games.

Osman continued her career by participating in various international competitions including the International Sindlefingen Swimming Competition (ISSC) where she competed in all sprint events in backstroke, butterfly and freestyle. She received the second-place trophy for best sprinters in the competition.

At 13, Osman went to the United States for summer camp where she swam for the Bear Swimming Team in Berkeley, California. She participated in various competitions including RESLs, Junior Olympics, Sectionals and Far Westerns. She was in the top 10 of her year group.

Osman has just finished her senior year at the University of California where she has been a key part of a Golden Bears team that has been among the top in NCAA swimming every year she swam.

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