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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 30 - 09 - 2004

Egypt finished 24 out of 136 nations in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. Abeer Anwar breaks down the winning performances
Egypt's disabled athletes repeated their Sydney 2000 ranking, finishing again in 24th place.
This was despite the fact that in Sydney Egypt won 28 medals, as opposed to only 23 in Athens -- six gold, nine silver and eight bronze.
Also in Sydney, there were 123 participating nations.
In Athens, China was the overall medal winner with a whopping 141.
The largest number of medals for Egypt came from its powerlifters. They brought in 12 medals, tying with China for the most medals in the sport.
In the men's powerlifting events, in the 52kg weight category, Osama El-Sergani won gold medal with a 177.5kg lift. China's Wu Guo Jing finished second with 172.5kg, while Iran's Gholambhossein Chaltoukkar came third with 165kg.
"I am pleased with this victory in the birthplace of the Olympic Games," El-Sergani said. "This gold medal is the greatest success in my career. I do not believe that there is anything more important to compete for and that is why I decided to quit. It is time to focus on my personal life."
China's Wang Jian, though, blocked Ahmed Gomaa's way to glory, winning the men's 56kg category. Wang lifted 185 kilos, five more than Gomaa, who failed to win his fourth consecutive gold medal in a Paralympic Games. The 41-year- old Egyptian, who broke into tears after his defeat, has three gold and one silver medal. It was the first gold medal for Wang after winning silver in Atlanta and bronze in Sydney.
The men's 60kg category was a close affair but with a lift of 197.5 Shaaban Ibrahim won the gold for Egypt. Korea's Jung Keum Jong, also a winner of three consecutive gold Paralympic medals, missed his first two attempts, but lifted 195kg on the final attempt to claim the silver, while Iran's Ali Husseini placed third with 192.5kg.
"I was hoping for the gold and fortunately I did it, although I wanted to lift 203 kilos and break the world record," Ibrahim said, adding that he dedicated his medal "to all Egyptians and my federation."
In the men's 67.5kg, Metwalli Matthana found it smooth sailing on his way to his second consecutive gold medal in a Paralympic Games after having dominated the 60kg class in Sydney. The world record holder lifted 212.5 kilos on his third attempt and then had an unsuccessful fourth attempt at 213.5 kilos.
The 41-year-old won the 60kg category in Sydney, and finished third in Atlanta. He holds the world records in both the 60 and 67.5kg categories.
Second place Wu Mao Shun of China lifted 200 kilos to edge Hamzeh Mohamadi of Iran for the bronze. Mohamedi had lifted the same weight but lost third place on body weight difference.
In the 75kg category, El-Sayed Abdel-Aal snatched the silver medal after lifting 210 kilos. China's Hai Dong took first.
"I'm not satisfied with my performance. I could have gotten the gold medal if I had tried a bit harder," Abdel-Aal said. "My countrymen expected me to bring a gold medal, but I disappointed them."
Hai Dong easily won the 75kg class by lifting 225 kilos. It was the third consecutive Paralympic gold medal for the Chinese who is also the world record holder in both the 75kg and 82.5kg categories.
In the 82.5kg weight category, Mustafa Hamed also took silver. "It was a very tough competition," said Hamed who needed a third and final attempt to win his medal.
In the 44kg category for women, Gihan Bayoumi took second. "I was very nervous during the competition," Bayoumi said. "Before the Games I knew I was a medal favourite, but also knew that [opponent] Ejike was in better shape. So my goal was to win the silver medal. I did it and also broke the national record."
In the 48kg category Abeer Nail again won the silver.
"My initial goal was to win the bronze as I was recovering from a serious injury to my shoulder. So I feel great about winning the silver medal," her second in Paralympic Games.
In the 56kg body weight category, Fatma Omar broke six world and Paralympic records before calling it a day. The Egyptian champion lifted 130kg in an attempt that turned out to be the last of her career. "I'm so happy. It's a feeling I just can't describe. This was the last championship for me and I'm glad that my career ends with a gold medal."
Nigerian Patience Aghimile Igbiti came second with 122.5kg (a world record for just a few minutes). China's Huo Zhenling won the bronze medal with 112.5kg.
Amani Ali took third in the 60kg category with 117.5kg, adding one more medal to Egypt's tally. "I can't describe how excited I am," Ali said. I didn't expect to win this medal and I believed that I would finish fourth or fifth. Now I'll focus on Beijing (site of the next Paralympic Games), where I hope to win another medal."
In the 67.5kg category, Heba Ahmed won gold, beating China's Li Ping. Ahmed failed her first two attempts but lifted 142.5 kilos on the third, 16 more than the previous world record (126.5 set in 2003).
Catalina Vilchis from Mexico won the bronze medal.
"I cannot describe my happiness," Ahmed said. I expected the gold since I've been training hard for the last four years. I will definitely go on until the 2008 Paralympic Games."
In the over 82.5kg, there was a battle for the bronze, as Hend Abdel-Aati and Li Fengmei of China both lifted 122.5 kilos but Abdel-Aati, four kilos lighter, won a place in the podium. "I came to Athens well-prepared to win the gold," Abdel- Aati said. "However, I'm very satisfied with the bronze since the competition was tough.
"I dedicate this medal to my parents." Abdel- Aati added she did not intend to continue powerlifting "as I'm going to get married soon and I want to devote myself to my family".
In the 82.5kg, Nadia Fikri collected the silver. "God helped me achieve this success. I dedicate this medal to my mother and my future husband. I want to thank Greece for giving me the opportunity to get it."
On her future plans, Fikri said she was ending her career with the medal. "I'm going to get married and have a family."
In sitting volleyball, Egypt lost to triple title holder Iran but beat Germany for the bronze. Egypt had earlier beat the United States and Germany 3-0.
"We did our best but the Iranians are very difficult opponents," coach Mansour El-Mohamedi said.
In athletics, Egypt won two silver and three bronze. Mahmoud El-Attar collected one of the silvers in the javelin.
El-Attar held the world record for four years, at 49.32m, until a Nigerian broke it with a distance of 50.72m. "I'm very disappointed but very happy to win a second medal in Athens," El-Attar said. "I think that when the Nigerian was throwing it was windy, but it stopped when my turn came up."
Teammate Hossam Abdel-Latif added a bronze in the discus. "It was a great tournament," Abdel-Latif said. "I had one very good throw which gave me the bronze. I'm 33 and still hungry for medals."

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