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The Cairo 360 Guide to Egypt at the 2012 Olympics

The Cairo 360 Guide to Egypt at the 2012 Olympics
    written by
    Cairo 360

    In true Egyptian
    style, scandal and embarrassment has hit our Olympians before the competitions
    have even started. It could have been worse; rather than receiving fake Nike
    kits, the Egyptian Olympic committee could have sent El Tawheed We El Noor’s
    latest  ‘Adidos’ gear.

    But out of the ashes
    of humiliation, Cairo 360 can do nothing but laugh to cover the shame and look
    onward with waning hope. Our boys and girls are competing in no less than
    twenty events and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they can bring back a
    medal or two – preferably gold.

    So consider this a
    ‘dummy’s’ guide to Egypt at the Olympics; if we’re going to win, these are the
    events we’re holding high hopes for.

    Football

    We had to start with
    the country’s favourite sport. The Egyptian Olympic football team has the
    misfortunes of facing tournament favourites, Brazil, in their opening game,
    though Egypt’s senior team have given their Brazilian counterparts a run for
    their money before. Although rules dictate that only under 23 are eligible to
    take part in the Olympic football tournament, three over-age players can be
    recruited by each squad. Egypt couldn’t have chosen their three better; striker
    Emad Moteb, jack-of-all-trades Ahmed Fathy, and most importantly, Mohamed
    Aboutrika – widely hailed by the football community worldwide as the best
    player plying his trade in Africa. At the age of thirty three, Aboutrika is
    well past his peak, but there’s no better Olympic representative than this guy;
    dedicated, professional, humble and intelligent, a few of Egypt’s bigger
    football stars would do well to follow in his footsteps.

    Coached by former
    international defender Hany Ramzy – who spent much of his career kicking lumps
    out of strikers in Germany – a lot is riding on the success of this team, considering
    that our women’s football team failed to qualify.

    Judo

    Four years ago in
    Beijing, 30 year-old judoka, Hesham Mesbah, achieved the unthinkable by winning
    bronze in the 90kg judo weight class; Egypt’s first medal in judo for
    twenty-four years. Four years later, and Mesbah has the honour of being Egypt’s
    flag bearer in London. It’s a role that sounds more impressive than it is, but
    the multi-medal winning martial-artist will proudly carry the Egyptian flag
    during the opening ceremony.

    Also representing
    Egypt in judo will be Islam El Shehaby who, in the past decade, has collected
    three gold medals at the annual African Judo Championships.

    Wrestling

    Speaking of flag
    bearers, Karam Gaber was honoured with the role at the 2008 Beijing Olympics,
    even though he didn’t qualify. This came as a shock to the sports community in
    Egypt as Gaber had won gold in Greco-Roman wrestling at 96kg at the 2004 Athens
    Olympics. He quickly followed up that success with gold in the 2005
    Mediterranean Games in Spain. But subsequent fame and several miserable
    endorsements and ad campaigns set the hulking wrestler off track. At
    thirty-three years of age, this is surely Gaber’s last shot at success.

    Modern Pentathlon

    As the single Egyptian
    representative in the Modern Pentathlon, Aya Medany will compete in five
    events; fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting and
    cross-country running. The twenty-three year old Cairene is no stranger to the
    Olympics, having come in at a respectable eighth place in Beijing four years
    ago.

    Her journey hasn’t
    been without controversy, though; Medany’s hijab has been an issue,
    particularly in the swimming event. Olympic rules decree that any swimming
    garments cannot cover an athletes’ neck or reach below their knees. It’s a
    concern that has forced Medany to consider retiring from professional
    competition and concentrate on her teaching job at the Arab Academy for Science
    and Technology and Maritime Transport in Heliopolis. It’s a damn shame; since
    2003, Medany has won no less than twenty medals in various international and
    continental competitions.

    Swimming

    At the tender age of
    seventeen, US born swimmer, Farida Osman, will represent her native Egypt in
    the 50m freestyle swim. Osman has already achieved a tremendous amount, having
    taken the Middle East by storm at the Pan Arab games in 2007. As the youngest
    member of the Egyptian team (twelve years old!) she became the youngest Arab
    athlete to win an event – the 50m. She even broke the record. Osman is an
    athlete that we’ll be seeing for at least the next two Olympics. You may even
    bump into her at the Gezira Sports Club swimming pools, where she frequents.

    Tahya Masr!

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