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Published in Ahram Online on 01 - 06 - 2021

Egypt's top female Greco-Roman wrestler Samar Hamza kept her winning streak alive by taking the gold medal at the Ivan Yargin Grand Prix, held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, in the women's seniors 76kg weight category. The 26-year-old skillfully beat Russia's Ekaterina Bukina who claimed the silver while her compatriot Kristina Shumova won the bronze.
The mighty Hamza had already secured her spot at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after winning the first of two matches in the African Olympic qualifiers which took place in Hammamet, Tunisia, from 2 to 4 April. Hamza beat Tunisia's Zineb Saghir by confirmation to play in the final against Ivorian Ami Yuen.
In the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov tournament in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Hamza claimed the bronze medal in the same 76kg weight category and won a silver medal in the Matteo Pelicone tournament which was held in Rome in March.
On the other hand, the Egyptian gymnastics team not only won the African Gymnastics Championship which recently concluded in Cairo but also had some players qualify for the Olympic Games.
With 12 overall medals collected, the Egyptians topped the standings of the medals table with six gold, three silver and three bronze medals. Algeria finished second with two medals - a silver and a bronze - while South Africa came in third place with only one bronze medal.
Egypt's superstar Zeina Ibrahim stole the show, booking her ticket to the Olympic Games after clinching four gold medals while displaying brilliant performances on the different apparatus: the All-Around, Vault, Uneven Bars and the Balance Beam. The other place in the women's Olympics went to South Africa's Naveen Daries.
In the men's event, Omar Al-Arabi had also booked a ticket after winning gold in the All-Around discipline. Malak Hamza and Seif Asser both earned two Olympic tickets for winning the men's and women's trampoline events.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Despite being postponed from last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the games still retain the title of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The 2021 African Championships were held from 26-27 May in Cairo. The event served as individual qualifications for the 2020 Olympics, and is the last Olympic qualifying event for African gymnasts.
The competition was originally set to be held in Tshwane, South Africa, but was postponed a year due to the coronavirus. It was set to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, before it was moved to Cairo.
Seven countries took part in the Olympics qualifiers: Algeria, Morocco, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and Libya, in addition to host Egypt. All the gymnasts participated in the all-around, which also served as event finals.
For hosts Egypt, the African qualifying tournament also served as a rehearsal for the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) Artistic Gymnastics World Cup scheduled to be held in Egypt from 3 to 6 June at Cairo International Stadium.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 June, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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