Written by Ahmed Badawi
It has finally arrived! After starting its journey from the ancient city of Olympia, the Olympic torch ended its 110-day journey in the Maracanã Stadium today where it was delivered to the cauldron to mark the start of the 32nd version of the ‘modern’ Olympics.
Out of 207 countries participating with approximately 11,200 athletes, Egypt hopes for a more glorious contribution from its 119 stars than in past tournaments. We will compete in 22 of the 28 sports of the competition, having no players for hockey, golf, badminton, tennis, triathlon and football. Striving for Olympic medals, Egypt will be represented in this Olympic competition with athletes who showed international standard winning capabilities.
Following the Action
Handball & Volleyball
The biggest number of participants Egypt will have in a sport is in both volleyball and handball, each with 14 players; granted the volleyball group will represent 2 teams, men’s team and women’s beach volleyball team. The men’s team will start its journey on the 7th of August in Group B against Poland. Despite being ranked 20th internationally, we will have a very tough competition against four top ten teams and the 17th team in the world, Cuba, which will put extra pressure on the team that wants to finish in the top four of the group to qualify for the next round. For beach volleyball, the women’s team will also play in group B against 3 teams, Germany, Italy and Canada and will start on the 8th. Our handball team will start against Slovenia on the 7th in a group in which they’ll face the hosts, Brazil. The first four teams of the group will also qualify for the quarter finals which will be on the 17th, ousting the remaining two.
Table Tennis & Synchronised Swimming
For women’s table tennis, and synchronized swimming, the table tennis team will play on the 12th of August starting against Singapore, and hopefully proceed to the quarterfinals on the following day and the final on the 17th. One day later, the synchronised swimming team will perform one out of 2 routines that will determine the winners of the medals. The medals will be given for points awarded for each performance based on both technical and artistic qualities of the performance.
We will also compete with duets from the 14th to the 16th of the month. The fencing team, which is composed of the individual competitors, will compete in foil category (specific technique will be explained later) on the 7th day of the competition, five days later than their individual matches.
On the 7th the individual foil fencing competition will take place, which is different than epee and sabre fencing in the attacking style and target areas in the body, it shall be played two and three days later respectively.
Our athletes will represent us in individual sports from day one. Archery competition will start on the first day, with two Egyptian athletes from both sexes competing. The points are simply calculated based on how close the arrows are to the middle of the central circle.
Several games will follow on the 6th of August like boxing, judo, swimming, shooting, singles in rowing and singles in table tennis. Four athletes will compete in boxing in all weight categories as well as in judo, which has five players competing in turn.
The 7th will also hold the individual all-around gymnastics, the start of weight-lifting games as well as road race cycling for the first time since 2000. The sailing competition will be on the following day with only one competitor. The following days will witness other competitions like diving, equestrian horse jumping, wrestling, taekwondo, canoeing, pentathlon and athletics.
For those unfamiliar with the pentathlon, it is simply five games in one. A pentathlon player gets scores after playing five games that are fencing, swimming, horse-riding, shooting and running. Shooting and fencing hold a bigger weight in the scores as stated by our athletes, and they say they’re ready to get all the points in them.
Egypt will compete in athletics in the men’s 400m and 800m races, as well as the women’s 1500m race. We will also seek a medal in men’s hammer throw.
The Stars We’re Betting On
Alaa El-Din Aboulkassim: Africa’s only silver medallist in fencing will enter the competition in high spirits after winning silver at the Grand Prix in Havana. He will compete for a medal in both the singles and team foil fencing games. He’ll face Czech Republic’s Choupenitch in the first round and the United States with the team.
Farida Osman and Marwan El-Kamash: A medal in swimming is highly anticipated as Egypt enters the competition with these two record breakers. Farida broke the African record in the 50m butterfly race at the 2015 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Russia, making her a very strong contender in the 100m butterfly as well as the 50m freestyle races. Marwan El-Kamash in turn broke the Egyptian 200m and 400m free record at Arena Pro Swim Series at the United states in 2015, a competition in which he finished third. Given the time of improvement our champions had, we might finally see a medal in swimming that Egypt can celebrate about.
Egyptian synchronized swimming will enter the competition as the youngest team. Having entered Spain’s Open earlier this year, we hope they make a surprise at this tournament. We asked Nada Safaan, one of the team’s members about their preparations and she said, “We started training a year ago with 5 hour daily sessions to improve our endurance and learn more difficult routines. We also took part in Spain’s open competition to increase our performances’ standards to Olympic level.” She also expressed the team’s excitement about participating in the Olympics, and gaining experience from ‘world-class’ athletes. Get to know the team in this video.
Unfortunately, we took a huge blow with a medal that would have been up for the grabs in javelin throw. Ihab Abdulrahman, African champion and second in the last world competition was accused of doping and might be prevented from competing in this Olympics. Ihab in turn denies taking any prohibited material, stating that it is irrational to have a positive result in middle test of three taken in three consecutive months during which he maintained the same diet and supplement regime.
So, will Egypt finally see more medals in the Olympics? We’ve already received weightlifter, Abeer Abdulrahman’s medal, for the Olympics 2012, just a couple of weeks ago; which might be a good omen for what might happen in the coming days!
You can follow the games & results on beINsport or https://www.olympic.org/ Note: Cairo, Egypt is 5 hours ahead of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Let us know!
Are you following the Olympics? How do you plan to follow & support the Egyptian teams? Let us know in the comments!