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Perfect present
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 07 - 03 - 2019

Egypt's Ahmed Al-Gendi claimed two gold medals in the men's event and the team mixed relay of the first of the five-series Modern Pentathlon World Cup held in Cairo. Al-Gendi super-powered his opponents as he took the gold medal in the men's events with a total of 1,465 points. He was followed 17 seconds later by silver medalist Jan Kuf of the Czech Republic with 1,435 points, with bronze medalist Justinas Kinderis of Lithuania a further 13 seconds behind and 1,350 points.
It was Al-Gendi's first medal in a seniors World Cup event. “But it wasn't my first participation. I had taken part before in World Cups but never won. This is why this medal means a lot to me as well as it is my first medal of this year,” the 19-year-old Al-Gendi told Al-Ahram Weekly after receiving his second gold medal.
Al-Gendi, who turned 19 on the day he won his first medal, had a remarkable year in 2018, winning the Youth Olympic Games gold medal and the Youth and Juniors World Championship gold medals. He was named the best junior modern pentathlon player of the year and won the Mohamed Bin Rashed Creative Sports Award for his achievements.
“It was a great season for me, very long, very hectic but rewarding as well, me winning all those medals and titles. I didn't have any time to relax actually, as I continued my training in preparation for this new season, with the aim of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games. 2019 is going to be a tough season as well, with four more World Cup series, then the world championships right until next June or July.
“The coming months will be so busy and one feels responsible as all eyes will be focused on us as a team and myself as well. But, I don't think it will put us under pressure. On the contrary, I believe it is going to be a motivation to drive me forward to achieve my goal,” said Al-Gendi whose winnings were described by the official website of the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) as “a habit that Ahmed Al-Gendi of Egypt can't seem to kick”.
In the team mixed relay, the Egyptian duo Haidi Adel and Al-Gendi made Egypt even prouder the following day as they dominated the final event of World Cup 1 by winning gold with total points of 1,432, followed by the Czech Republic which claimed the silver medal with 1,396 points and the Hungarian duo who took the bronze with 1,383 points.
Adel, who had failed to reach the podium on day one of the women's event, was happy with her gold medal. “I am glad to have won this medal as a beginning for the new season. I wished I had done better in the individual competition, but I had some problems with my shooting. But then I worked on it today and this helped a lot with my results,” Adel told the Weekly, adding, “I am also glad to win the gold medal of the African Championship which was held days before the World Cup in Egypt to become the first Egyptian athlete to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games from Africa. Still, I will continue to collect as many points as I can from the World Cup competitions in the coming months.”
The Egyptian team had taken the lead after the fencing event before dropping to eighth place after the swimming competition. But, they came from behind in the riding event to recapture their lead until the final of the laser-run to win the gold medal, ahead of their competitors by a good margin.
The victories were celebrated at the Platinum Club in New Cairo.
“This week, we have been celebrating some outstanding achievements for Egyptian athletes whether in or out of Egypt,” Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi told the Weekly. “It started with the squash, taekwondo and karate abroad and the now modern pentathlon in Egypt, and at the same time winning two gold medals. And before that, the youth handball team won the Mediterranean Championship in Port Said in Egypt. Such impressive achievements for us. It shows our strategy of nurturing promising athletes is paying off. And though we didn't win a single medal at the World Cup Fencing Championship, which just ended in Egypt, we did a good job as a host,” Sobhi added.
President of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation Sherif Al-Erian said it was a “wonderful start to the new season of the sport. Two gold medals to start with and before that two seats booked for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are really all superb and terrific achievements to start the year. For us, it is going to bring more motivation and determination for our athletes to maintain their level of performance and reach their target towards qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which is our federation's ultimate goal at the moment,” Al-Erian told the Weekly.
“The challenges are still ahead of us until next June when the names of the qualifiers for the Olympics will be announced by the UIPM. And, we are working hard for that and our players are so enthusiastic and serious in their training, to collect as many points as they can in the next few months in order to prove worthy of qualification. We, from our side as officials, are supporting them financially and morally with all they need to reach our goals,” Al-Erian added.
UIPM President Klaus Schormann was enthralled with Al-Gendi's achievement. “Today in the first men's final of the 2019 season we saw an Egyptian festival. One day after his birthday, our winner gave himself the perfect present. To see our champion from the Youth Olympic Games securing first place in this senior competition is the perfect result for the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation, but also for UIPM. Another big result was fourth place for the athlete from Chile, who gave a great performance today.
“We saw two athletes who won medals at the UIPM 2018 Pentathlon World Championships in the middle places [Prades of France and Pavlo Tymoshchenko of Ukraine]. Our athletes are performing at such a high level that if you make a small mistake or miss something, you are already off the top.
“We have a big number of athletes who can be on the podium and we all had an exciting day and we are all looking forward to tomorrow.
“The mixed relay is a very important competition, as we know that this team event is a special goal for the future. We try to underline the strength of this event and we will concentrate on it throughout the season as we celebrate 125 years of the international Olympic movement,” Schormann said.
Russia's Uliana Batashova won the women's individual gold, her first gold ever, as she advanced from fourth to first place as the early leaders became stuck on the shooting range. The silver medal went to Natalya Coyle of Ireland while Hungary's Kovacs clinched the bronze.

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