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In honour of the winners
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 20 - 10 - 2015

More than 200 athletes were honoured for their outstanding achievements in three major international sports events — the 2015 All Africa Games staged in the Congo, the Military Games in Korea and the Mediterranean Beach Games in Pescara, Itlay. In the presence of their coaches and federation officials, the athletes received certificates of excellence as well as lucrative prize money.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was scheduled to attend the event held in the gardens of the headquarters of the Egyptian National Olympic Committee but had to cancel at the last minute because of his involvement in the first stage of the parliamentary elections which took place this week.
Youth and Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz was joined by National Olympic Committee president Hisham Hatab and Hassan Mustafa, president of the International Handball Federation, in honouring the athletes. Other national and African dignitaries were among the invitees, including the president of the African Sports Council.
Egypt dominated the All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, with a total of 217 medals — 85 gold, 64 silver and 68 bronze in 18 sports. Egypt was followed by South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria in the medals table.
“This is an impressive and remarkable victory for Egypt. We excelled over other African countries such as South Africa and Nigeria who are two of the biggest economies on the continent. Yet, we managed to beat them,” Abdel-Aziz told the audience.
“We won medals in 17 out of the 18 sports with the exception of cycling. The highest was in weightlifting which alone took 43 medals, 25 out of which were gold, 10 silver and eight bronze. It's amazing they won all these medals with only 15 athletes.
“Actually, if we look at Egypt's overall results, it's really outstanding. In addition to weightlifting, swimming, fencing, wrestling, taekwondo and karate registered the most medals,” Abdel-Aziz said
Egypt's swimmers beat South Africa in the pool to clinch the top place in the sport which has been dominated by the South Africans for decades on the continental level. Egypt's swimmers claimed 41 medals which made swimming the second most successful sports federation in the Games. Swimming had 11 gold, 18 silver and 12 bronze.
Fencing won an overall 20 medals: seven gold, four silver and nine bronze. Wrestling and taekwondo each won an overall 15 medals. Both won seven gold medals each but the wrestlers collected two silver and five bronze while taekwondo had four silver and four bronze. With a total of 14 medals, karate joined the hall of fame, including six gold, three silver and five bronze.
In the All Africa Paralympic Games, also in the Congo, Egypt took part in only two sports, athletics and weightlifting. Athletics claimed three medals —one gold, one silver and one bronze while weightlifting took a total of 15 medals, six gold, six silver and three bronze.
Gold medalists were awarded LE40,000 in prize money, LE26,000 for the silver and LE15,000 for the bronze medalists. “The total amount of prize money is LE8million and LE630,000, and for the first time, the government decided to bring equality to both levels. So, the Paralympians will also receive the same prize money just as their able-bodied counterparts,” Abdel-Aziz revealed.
In the Military Games, the Egyptians claimed a total of 13 medals — four gold, four silver and five bronze while the beach handball team claimed the gold medal at the Beach Games in Pescara, Italy. The athletes won the same prize money.
Abdel-Aziz told Al-Ahram Weekly following the event that the celebrations were now over and that the focus now was on three major events in the future.
“We are only months away from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and we are looking to reaching the podium in some sports. That is the number one goal now and as I said, time is running out so everyone has to be serious about it.
“Egypt is hosting the African Handball Championship in January, a qualifying tournament to the Games. Football has another qualifying tournament. If we manage to send these two most popular sports to the Olympic Games, that would be a great achievement.
“As of November we will campaign for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and hope to make it the 2018 World Cup. We need to support football and push it forward. We have a good team now. It's not acceptable that Egypt has not made it to the Africa Cup of Nations for three editions in a row and has failed to make it to the World Cup finals since 1990. We have to be there.”


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