Egypt in the 2004 Summer Olympics

Egypt in the 2004 Summer Olympics

by Jimmy Dunn

Nabla Ramadan, Egyptian weightlifter

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The original Olympics were held every four years for a span that lasted for almost eight centuries. In 393 AD, the Roman Emperor Theodosius, during a period of increasing Christian piety, banned the original Olympic games as pagan. Not until 1896 were the games revived, first in Greece, in a stadium paid for by an Egyptian businessman of Greek origin. Yet, Egypt did not make its modern Olympic debut until 1920, at the Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

We rarely cover modern sports in Egypt, but this year the Olympics return to their ancient venue, and with them come one of Egypt's best medal chances in years. The last time Egypt won an Olympic medal was in 1984, when Mohamed Rashwan claimed a silver at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In 2004, Egypt has high hopes for three medals, and in what seems like the spirit of this year's event, their best chance for a gold comes from the females, specifically Nahla Ramadan. She has plenty of incentive to bring the gold home too. Besides probably becoming even more of a national hero than she already is, along with the gold she could also claim a one million pound prize.

Nabla, Egypt's Weightlifting Champion, doing a successful lift

Nineteen year old Nahla is currently the junior and women's world champion in the 75 kg weight category in weightlifting. She won two world titles in both senior and junior events in 2003, for the first time in the history of Egyptian women's weightlifting. In fact, she took all possible world titles in 2003. She set a record of 262.5 kg in her group and is expected to achieve 265 kg at the Olympic games.

At Minsk in May of 2004, Nahla was the biggest star in the field of 262 competitors in both men's and women's weightlifting, and so not surprisingly, even Sport's Illustrated has picked her for Gold in the Women's 75 kg (165 lbs) event at Athens. In fact, she is the only Egyptian athlete to be picked for any medal by SI at the summer event.

But Egypt does have a few other contenders, specifically in Greco-Roman wrestling. Both Mohamed Abdel-Fattah (Bougi), in the 84 kg division and Karam Gaber in the 96 kg field hope to upset higher ranked wrestlers Both are currently ranked in the top six of their field, and Gaber was named the second best wrestler in the last World Championship in France. However, he is a two time World silver medallist and a two time World Cup Champion as well as a seven time African champion. Though currently not really picked for medals, luck, and a shot at that one million Egyptian pound prize could even turn them into gold winners.

Abdel-Fattah (Bougi), one of the Egyptian Olympic Team's Wrestling hopefuls

It is no surprise that Egypt's best hopes for medals in the 2004 Olympics are in weightlifting and Greco-Roman Wrestling. Since the beginning of the modern Olympic games, Egypt's standings are:

Event Gold Silver Bronze Total
Weightlifting 5 2 2 9
Greco-Roman Wrestling 1 1 2 4
Diving 1 1 2
Judo 1 1
Boxing 1 1

Total 6 5 6 17

Including fourth place, they have placed in 50 events.

Karam Gaber, another of Egypt's Wrestling Hopefuls

In all, Egypt will take part in seventeen sports at this year's Summer Olympics, including weightlifting, wrestling, handball, hockey, Athletics, swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, judo, boxing, taekwondo, modern pentathon, rowing, shooting, equestrian, fencing and archery. The teams are as follows:

Weightlifting : Women: Nahla Ramadan and Anga Sayed. Men: Ahmed Saad, Mohamed Tantawi and Mohamed Ihsan.

Wrestling: Two male players in the Greco-Roman: Mohamed Abdel- Fattah (Bougi) in the 84kg and Karam Gaber in the 96kg.

Handball : Men's team competing.

Hussein Zaki leading Egypt's handball team

The most popular team sport in Egypt in terms of achievement, the handball team is surrounded by some controversy. Warming up for the Olympic Games, Egypt hosted the International Al-Ahram Handball Championship. Surprisingly, Egypt was placed third in the four-team event. The African champion who placed sixth in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and seventh in Sydney in 2000, barely beat Japan but lost to France and Russia. Surprisingly, the team which has reached a career high of the world number four in 2001, has recently displayed shamefully low level performances. The German head coach of the team claimed that the players were too tired from playing so many friendly matches in the past months in preparations for the Olympic Games.

Egypt was expected to play another friendly match against Japan before flying to Athens, but the head coach cancelled the games saying his players were "tired".

Hockey: Men's team competing.

The 16-man team, winner of the African championships, has no hopes in qualifying past the first round. But as the continent's champions they have to take part, but in the presence of the world giants Holland, Pakistan and India, the Egyptians stand little chance in getting past the first round.

Athletics: Men: Omar El-Ghazali in the discus throwing, Hatem Mersal in the long jump. Women: Marwa Arafat in the hammer throw.

The three players hold the best Egyptian and African results. According to federation officials -- and indeed based on their international results -- they are expected to claim a position in the top 12.

Swimming: Men: Ahmed Mustafa in the 50, 100 and 200 meter backstroke. Women: Salma Abdel-Raouf in the100 meter breast stroke.

Egypt's best results in the Olympic pool came in 2000 in Sydney when Egypt's retired golden fish Ranya Elwany reached the final B and clinched the 11th spot.

Synchronized swimming : Heba Tawfik and Dalia Allam will take part in the single and duo routines.

Water polo: Men's team competing.

After 36 years of absence, the Egyptian national water polo team returns back to the Olympic pool. The last time Egypt took part was in Mexico in 1968. The draw has put Egypt among top strong teams like Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain, making Egyptian chances almost nil.

Judo: Men: Amin El-Hadi, Basel El- Gharabawi, El-Sayed Abou Midan, Hisham Hanafi, Haitham El- Husseini, Ismail Amr. Women: Samah Ramadan.

According to Egyptian Federation Chairman Sameh Mobasher, Egypt far surpasses other international competitors. Despite this alleged superior level, Egypt retains only the African crown.

Boxing: Saleh Abdel-Bary, Mohamed Reda, Mohamed El- Baz, Ahmed Ismail, Abdel-Mawgoud Heikal, Ramadan Abdel-Ghaffar.

These boxers -- despite their tough personalities -- look to stand no chances against the world's top fighters. The little glimmer of hope and perhaps a miracle come in Afro- Asian gold medallist Abdel-Mawgoud Heikal.

Taekwondu : Men: Tamer Salah and Karim El-Ramly. Women: Abeer Abdel-Fattah and Germein Fayez.

Egypt hopes for a good draw which would enable this team of African champions a berth in the second round -- an opportunity denied in Sydney 2000.

Modern Pentathlon: Men: Raouf Hossam. Women: Aya Medani.

These two athletes both boast spots as African champions. The 21-year- old Hossam and the 17-year-old Medani were trained in Poland. Medals unlikely, but perhaps it will prove their time to be spotted by athletic talent-seeking scouts.

Rowing: Men: Ali Ibrahim. Women: Doaa Osama.

Together with accomplished female teammate, Ibrahim -- the best Egyptian rower -- competes in the single boat in his third appearance in the Olympic Games. Together with Osama they have been trained in the USA. Chances are high for a medal.

Shooting: Men: Mohamed Ismail, Amr Yousri, Mustafa Ismail. Women: Dina El-Essawy and Shaimaa Hashaad.

The promise of Egypt in this sport lies in the hands of Ismail in the air- pressure rifle 100 meter event. His record is 595/600, making this young marksman a hope for the finals. He finished 14th in the last Olympics.

Equestrian: Saleh Andre Sakakini makes his fourth appearance in the Olympic Games. Sakakini is the best horse rider in the history of Egypt. Based in Germany, he trains on his own, under the supervision of the Egyptian Equestrian Federation and the Egyptian National Olympic Committee. Despite qualifying for the games by placing in the top sliver of the world's riders, Sakakini was unfortunately hospitalized with kidney problems just days prior to the games.

Fencing: Men: Tamer Tahoun, Mustafa Anwar, Mustafa Nagati, Mohannad Seif, Yasser El-Erwany and Ahmed Nabil. Women: Shaimaa El- Gammal.

Egypt's hopes lies in Tahoun in the foil competition.

Archery: Men: Maged Mohieddin and Essam Sayed Ahmed. Women: May Ahmed Hisham and Lamiaa Medhat.

The Egyptian Archery Federation consider themselves lucky to participate with four players instead of only one in 2000. The International Federation allowed them the chance after the sport has shown clear progress in Egypt and remarkable results in the African continent in the past four years.

Egypt's Historical Olympic Standings

1984 Summer Olympics (XXIII)
Los Angeles, United States

Final Medal Count
Place Gold Silver Bronze Total
34 0 1 0 1
Event Medallist Metal
Judo Mohamed Rashwan Silver

1960 Summer Olympics (XVII)
Rome, Italy

Final Medal Count
Place Gold Silver Bronze Total
40 0 0 1 1
Event Medalist Metal
Boxing - Flyweight (-51 kg) Abdel El Gindy Bronze

1952 Summer Olympics (XV)
Helsinki, Finland

Final Medal Count
Place Gold Silver Bronze Total
40 0 0 1 1
Event Medallist Metal
Greco-Roman Wrestling - Featherweight (57-61 kg) Abdel Rashed Bronze

1948 Summer Olympics (XIV)
London, Great Britain

Final Medal Count
Place Gold Silver Bronze Total
17 2 2 1 5
Event Medallist Metal
Weightlifting - Featherweight (56-60 kg) Mahmoud Fayad Gold
Weightlifting - Lightweight (60-67.5 kg) Ibrahim Shams Gold
Weightlifting - Lightweight (60-67.5 kg) Attia Hamouda Silver
Greco-Roman Wrestling -Bantamweight (52-57 kg) Ali Mahmoud Hassan Silver
Greco-Roman Wrestling -Light-Heavyweight (79-87 kg) Ibrahim Orabi Bronze

1936 Summer Olympics (XI)
Berlin, Germany

Final Medal Count
Place Gold Silver Bronze Total
19 2 1 2 5
Event Medallist Medal
Weightlifting - Featherweight (-132 1/4 lb) Saleh Mohammed Silver
Weightlifting - Featherweight (-132 1/4 lb) Ibrahim Shams Bronze
Weightlifting - Lightweight (-148 1/4 lb) Anwar Meshbad Gold
Weightlifting - Middleweight (-165 1/2 lb) Khadr Sayed El Touni Gold
Weightlifting - Light-Heavyweight (-182 lb) Ibrahim Wasif Bronze

1928 Summer Olympics (IX)
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Final Medal Count
Place Gold Silver Bronze Total
19 2 1 1 4
Event Medalist Medal
Diving - Men's Springboard Farid Simaika Bonze
Diving - Men's Platform Farid Simaika Silver
Weightlifting - Light-Heavyweight (-182 lb) Sayed Nosseir Gold
Greco-Roman Wrestling - Light-Heavyweight (-181 3/4 lb) Ibrahim Moustafa Gold