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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 08 - 2012

With only two silver medals and scandalous missed matches, Egypt bid farewell to the 2012 Olympic Games, Inas Mazhar reports
At the London Olympic Games, it was the USA which topped the medals table at the end of the tournament with an overall 104 medals -- 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze. China, winner of the Beijing Games was runner up with 88 medals: 38 gold, 27 silver and 23 bronze. The host nation Great Britain finished third with a total of 65 medals; 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze.
Egypt ended up in 58th place out of slightly more than 200 countries. Only two silver medals were won, in fencing and Greco-Roman wrestling. Alaaeddin Abu El-Kassem had opened the way for Egypt in the first week of the Olympics with a silver medal in the foil event. In the second week, wrestler Karam Gaber, who won gold in Athens, added the second silver medal for Egypt.
The two silver medals were worth almost LE40 million which is the money spent by the Egyptian National Olympic committee on the preparations for the 117 athletes who took part in the Games.
But that was that. None of the remaining athletes managed to win any medals, even those who were favourites including taekwondo's Tamer Salah, a bronze medalist in Athens 2004 and Aya Medani who hoped for a medal after three Olympic participations.
Adding insult to injury, two wrestlers forfeited their matches on the last day when they didn't show up on time. Abdou Omar missed his 66kg first-round match and Saleh Emera missed his 96kg match, unaware that Sunday's schedule started at 8.30am.
All week, wrestling started at 1pm. However, because of the closing ceremony, the last three weight classes to be wrestled in the freestyle division started earlier. This was reportedly stated in the event's guide but it seems that the Egyptian officials did not take notice. Their appeals and even the crying of one of the wrestlers did not help.
Minister of Sports El-Amri Farouk called for an immediate investigation into the missing of the wrestling matches. According to reports, the schedule for wrestling had been posted for months. Every wrestler, official, media member, coach, volunteer and fan at the arena showed up on time. Though the two wrestlers were not medal hopefuls, the incident was extremely embarrassing.
On Sunday International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge declared the London 2012 Olympic Games "happy and glorious" and thanked London, as the spectacular closing ceremony brought the curtain down on 17 days of sporting excellence, which took place amidst a party atmosphere throughout the British capital.
The Olympic Stadium �ê" which staged so many impressive sporting achievements during the Games �ê" played host to a kaleidoscopic that celebrated the best of British music, with performances by artists including One Direction, Annie Lennox, George Michael, the Spice Girls, Take That and The Who.
As the Olympic flag was lowered, Rogge paid tribute to the London 2012 volunteers, as well as the enthusiastic support that fans offered throughout the Games.
"We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these Games," he said.
"You, the spectators and the public, provided the soundtrack for these Games. Your enthusiastic cheers energised the competitors and brought a festive spirit to every Olympic venue. You have shown the world the best of British hospitality."
London 2012 Chairman Seb Coe also thanked the British public for embracing the Games, saying: "We lit the flame and we lit up the world. We know more now, as individuals and as a nation, just what we are capable of.
"When our time came, Britain, we did it right. Thank you."
With attention turning to Rio de Janeiro, which will host the 2016 Olympic Games, the world was given a glimpse of what it can expect to see in four years' time, with London's Olympic Stadium being transformed into a Brazilian carnival scene, complete with samba dancers and football legend Pele.
The Olympic flame was then extinguished, bringing the London 2012 Olympic Games to a close as The Who provided a fitting conclusion with their anthem "My Generation".
"This may be the end of these two glorious weeks in London," said Coe. "But what we have begun will not stop now. The spirit of these Olympic Games will inspire a generation."


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