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The teenage year
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 27 - 12 - 2001

Youngsters had the edge in the year that was, writes Nashwa Abdel-Tawab
By all accounts, 2001 was the year of the juvenile in Egypt sports. The youngsters made the biggest headlines and in many cases, left their elder compatriots feeling their age.
In soccer, the Under-17 team took third place in two major championships, the African Youth Cup and World Youth Cup.
Fourth place went to the Under-17 World Youth Volleyball Championship.
Youngsters celebrated successes in six of the eight finals in the British Junior Open Squash Championship in Sheffield. And at the end of the year, second place was notched at the World Junior Championship in Sydney.
In athletics, Yasser Fathi and Amr El-Ghazali took the podium at the Athletics Youth World Championship in Hungary. Fathi took the silver medal in the shot put while El-Ghazali snatched the bronze in the discus.
Heba Salah, 19, won a gold medal at the world youth karate championships in Athens, an unprecedented achievement for Egyptian karate for either sex and in any age group.
There were, of course, days when the veterans shone. Hossam Hassan, the 34-year-old bad boy of Egyptian soccer, went down in the history books for something much more than his famed temper tantrums. Hassan passed German Luthar Matthaus' record of 150 caps.
It was a good year -- in fact a good century -- for two athletes. Abdel-Latif Abu Heif, conqueror of the English Channel decades earlier, was selected swimmer of the century by the US Swimming Higher Council.
Following suit, Anwar El-Ammawi was named champion of the century by the International Body-Building Federation and added yet another gold medal to his collection after taking the welterweight title at the Non-Olympic Games -- a tournament held especially for sports not played in the Olympics -- in Japan in August.
The national football team qualified for the African Nations Cup in January, having already appeared in the tournament a record 17 times. But for the third consecutive time, the team failed to make it to the World Cup.
A small measure of consolation was the 3-0 defeat of Greece as Egypt captured the 39th World Military Football Championship for the third time.
Despite five African trophies and an Egyptian Cup, all collected in the past eight years, the elusive soccer league was the one Zamalek supporters wanted most. And they got it as the club won its first league title in seven years and ninth in the club's history.
For rivals Ahli, the year began and ended in jubilation. The club was named the African football club of the century and 11 months later, was crowned champions of Africa, winning the African League Championship for the first time in 14 years.
To celebrate its century feat, Ahli invited Spanish club giants Real Madrid -- itself chosen the best club of the century -- and triumphed 1-0.
In the Mediterranean Games in Tunisia in September, Egypt outdid itself by amassing 36 medals, including seven gold. The National Olympic Committee had predicted 23 medals but by the first week that figure had already been surpassed.
Egypt was less prolific in the Francophone Games in Canada in July, bagging only 12 medals to finish sixth, albeit six places higher than its last Francophone appearance.
Mentally disabled athletes proved quite capable of getting the job done by collecting seven medals -- two gold, four silver and one bronze -- at the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Alaska. And it did so employing just 20 athletes.
Handball, the most successful team sport in recent years, continued to move up the ladder, leaping from seventh to fourth in the World Handball Championship in France.
In a historic moment for rowers, doubles duo Akram Abdel-Shafei and El-Bakri Yehia won the bronze medal in the World Rowing Championship in Germany.
Farewell was said to one great. Squash star Ahmed Barada, saying he was not the player he once was and would probably never be following a knife attack the year before, also called it a day. The shock announcement suddenly cut short a brilliant career that had seen the 24- year-old rise to No 3 in the world.
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