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Martial arts masters
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 28 - 09 - 2017

With a delegation of 43 players headed by Mohieddin Mustafa, deputy Egyptian Karate Federation president, Egyptian karatekas topped the medals table with 35 medals at the 2017 Junior, Cadet & U-21 Mediterranean Championships: 19 gold, 10 silver and six bronze as they took the spotlight this weekend as representatives of the northern African country. The event was staged in the city of Tangier in Morocco which hosted the 26th edition of the event that gathered young karatekas from Mediterranean nations.
Hosts Morocco came in second place with eight gold medals, seven silver and 18 bronze while Turkey came in third place with six gold medals, seven silver and 12 bronze.
The tournament attracted nearly 300 competitors from 11 Mediterranean countries and showed the rising power of Egyptian karatekas. Aya Ismail took her first medal in international competition in over a year after her silver in the 2016 Karate 1-Premier League in Hamburg, winning the U-21 Female Kata competition, thus opening the floodgates for Egyptian medals.
The gold medalists were Karim Walid and Nourhan Mohamed (youth individual kata), Rawan Ahmed (Female Kumite - 47kg), Yasmine Nasr (Female Kumite -54kg), Habiba Mohamed (Female Kumite +54kg),Youssef Mohamed (Male Kumite -70kg), Reem Ahmed (Female Kumite -48kg), Salma Nessim (Female Kumite -53kg), Nour Ashraf (Female Kumite-59kg), Mennat Shaaban (Female Kumite + 59kg), Zeyad Al-Gharib (Male Kumite-61kg), Taha Tarek (Male Kumite +76kg), Feryal Abdel-Aziz in U-21 (Female Kumite -68kg), Aisha Ahmed in U-21 (Female Kumite +68kg), Malek Salama in U-21( Male Kumite -60kg), Ahmed Al-Masri in U-21 (Male Kumite -84kg) and Mohamed Omar in U-21 (Male Kumite +84kg). They completed the outstanding domination of Egyptian karatekas in the elder categories.
Silver medalists were Malak Mohamed (individual kata), Nour Akram (+54kg), Mohamed Salah (-52kg), Ali Osama (+70kg) Abdallah Hisham (-68kg), Omar Ashraf (-76kg), Radwa Sayed (-50kg), Aya Salah, (-55kg), Abdallah Mamdouh (+75kg) and Ali Osama (+70).
Bronze medalists were Habiba Fouad (-48kg), Hazem Ahmed (+70kg) and Mustafa Mohamed (individual kata), and three bronze medals in the team kata from Asmaa Magdi, Shahd Ehab and Toka Hesham.
“It is a marvelous achievement that our young Pharaohs were able to raise the Egyptian flag high and win the championship among big names in the game,” Ayman Abdel-Hamid, Egyptian Karate Federation (EKF) president said. “It is also very good preparation for the World Junior Championship in October in Spain.”
Mustafa Fekri, EKF media committee manager said the achievement “helps the Egyptian national team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as it paves the way for the participation of a number of Egyptian karatekas in this great sport”.
Seif Eissa
Performing among his local taekwondo team and with a power breaking demonstration, Egypt's Seif Eissa competed in the Complex Sportif of Prince Moulay Abdullah in the Moroccan capital Rabat where he made it easily to the finals of the men's -80kg category, an event which fans had been waiting for as it is perhaps the most exciting category in the game.
They saw Eissa battling with Rio Olympic gold medalist and African taekwondo hero Cheick Sallah Cisse of Cote d'Ivoire who had been fighting hard and entertainingly all day. The Ivorian had vocal support from the crowd but the bout started at a slow pace with the two fighters probing each other and a fair bit of eyeball-to-eyeball psychological warfare taking place. It ended 0-0.
In the second round, the Egyptian scored first to the body, going 2-0 up but then lost a point for grabbing, 2-1. Finally, Cisse unleashed his attack, raising his score to 3-2 with a body kick.
In the third, just one point separated the fighters. Cisse asserted his dominance, going up 5-2 and playing a very physical game of pushing that seemed designed to intimidate the taller but slimmer Egyptian.
As the clock counted down, Eissa came alive, attacking across the mats with a flying side kick – a common technique in action movies but a rare kick in live competition – before landing a crescent kick to Cisse's head in the last 20 seconds and evening the score, briefly, to 5-5.
In the final seconds, the action escalated to close, fast and furious, with both men connecting. It ended 6-7 with a gold medal for the popular Olympic champ and a well-deserved silver for Eissa.
“I am very happy with the silver although I worked hard for the gold but my opponent was not easy at all,” Eissa said. “It was a dream match and a very hectic one. I thank all my fans and the people who backed me while playing as they really helped me reach where I am today.”
Milad Beigi Harchegani of Azerbaijan and Rene Lizarraga of Mexico had to be satisfied with bronzes.
The victors in each category won $5,000 in prize money. Silver medalists received $3,000 and the two bronze medalists took home $1,000 each. The winners were also guaranteed a place in the upcoming “Champion of Champions” Grand Slam series to be contested in December and January, where $100,000 of prize money will be up for grabs.
The invitational championship, the second of the four-series Grand Prix 2017, brought together 221 athletes and 48 international referees, representing 55 countries. Invitations were based on the August world taekwondo Olympic rankings.
Born on 15 June 1998, Eissa, a 19-year-old cadet, won a bronze medal at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics held in Nanjing, China, together with a gold medal in the 2015 African Games in Gaborone. He also took silver at the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Baku.

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