Saturday,25 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1400, (5 - 11 July 2018)
Saturday,25 May, 2019
Issue 1400, (5 - 11 July 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Success somewhere else

Egypt did much better at the XVIII Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Spain, than in the World Cup, reports Inas Mazhar


The Mediterranean Games offered a badly needed respite for Egypt after they were ousted from the group stage of the World Cup in embarrassing fashion. The Games brought back smiles to the depressed faces of Egyptians who had seen their football team display their worst at the world’s most prestigious sports event. Somewhere else on this planet, some Egyptian athletes, not as famous as the footballers, stunned the world and made Egypt proud with their brilliant performances and astounding results. Their only wish is that these achievements be recognised and appreciated. Sports is not just football.


In the Med Games, Egypt finished fifth in the medals table behind Italy, Spain, Turkey and France. With 45 overall medals — 18 gold, 11 silver and 16 bronze medals — Egypt managed to hold onto the same position it finished at the last Games in Mersin, Turkey, 2013.

The Italians topped the table with 156 medals, 56 of which were gold. Hosts Spain followed in second place with 122 medals, including 38 gold. With an overall medals of 95, Turkey was third followed by France with 99 medals but with less gold medals than fourth place Turkey which won 31 medals as opposed to 28 gold medals for the French.


Egyptian athletes excelled at the Games not just with gold medals but also by breaking new personal and African records. Altogether, 26 nations were represented by 4,419 male and female athletes who competed in 244 events in 33 sports.

Egypt’s medals came in weightlifting, karate, swimming, shooting, Greco and free wrestling, gymnastics, judo, table tennis, equestrian and boxing. The results showed great progress by the Egyptians in gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, equestrian and boxing.

With two gold medals and one silver, swimmer Farida Osman, dubbed the queen of the pool, was Egypt’s heroine in the water. Judoka Ramadan Darwish needed only 37 seconds to knock down his Italian opponent with an ippon to win a gold medal for the third time in a row, a noticeable achievement for Egypt and the player in the history of the Mediterranean Games. Dina Meshref took gold in women’s table tennis for the first time in Egypt’s history as well as gymnast Nancy Taman who won an unprecedented gold for Egypt in the horse vault. Teammate Ali Zahran claimed a bronze in the rings. And for the first time, boxers claimed three gold medals in three categories: 69, 81 and 91kgs, which put Egypt on top of the boxing competition standings ahead of all European champions. And of course with Olympic weightlifting bronze medalists Mohamed Ihab and Sara Samir, it was clear that the gold was Egypt’s in their events, with each winning two golds. Teammates Ahmed Saad, who finished fifth in the 2014 Rio Games, claimed two gold, as did Gaber Ahmed and Ragab Abdel-Hay who added another gold.


Back home, the champions were received at the airport by the new minister of youth and sports Ashraf Sobhi who congratulated the winners and promised lucrative prize money.

While this outstanding achievement in the Med Games went unnoticed by some officials, it was shared by the public on social media outlets, with users singing the praises of the owners of these achievements and calling for them to be officially decorated while bashing and even cursing out the football players for stealing the limelight from those who deserve it more.


Unfortunately, despite the performances and the records, the one-week Mediterranean Games, which was opened by King Felipe VI of Spain, were largely invisible in the media, all because of the World Cup. It was originally scheduled to be held in 2017. However, in November 2016, the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games announced that Tarragona was postponing its hosting of the Mediterranean Games from 2017 to 2018 due to funding problems caused by Spanish political and economic instability at the time. The alteration in the dates led to this year’s edition in Tarragona being eclipsed by the World Cup as it was held from 22 June to 1 July 2018.


Still, Tarragona managed to attract hundreds of journalists from all over the world covering the event, 1,000 referees and representatives from international federations and the international committee of the Games, 3,500 volunteers to cover the needs of the organisation and more than 150,000 spectators. But what’s more important to the Spanish city, which held the sports in 16 municipalities of its territory, was the impact of the local labour market on the Spanish city which has seen more than 3,000 indirect jobs and 70 to 80 professionals working for the organisational structure of the Games.


The host city Tarragona was announced during the ICMG General Assembly which took place during the Mersin Games in Turkey in 2013. Tarragona beat Egypt’s Alexandria 36-34 in the bid vote.

Thus, Tarragona became the third Spanish city to host the Mediterranean Games after Barcelona in 1955 and Almeria in 2005. And, ‘History making History’ became Tarragona’s motto of the Games.


The Mediterranean Games are a multisport competition organised within the Olympic movement, with the recognition of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Participation is established through the Olympic committees of each of the member countries of the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games (ICMG), in the geographical area of the Mediterranean.

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