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Uplifting in London
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 06 - 09 - 2012

Egypt's Paralympians have six medals, including two gold, reports Abeer Anwar
Egypt's Fatma Omar won a gold medal in the ongoing London Paralympics, in a thrilling women's -56 kg division competition, devastating the hopes of persistent contender Lucy Ejike by setting a new record in her fourth successive Paralympic Games in powerlifting. The 38-year-old produced a lift of 142kg to set a new record and watched on as Ejike failed to lift 142.5kg. The Nigerian claimed silver, while Turkey's Ozlem Becerikli took bronze with a best lift of 118kg.
Omar celebrated her victory by breaking the world record for the second time of the day at ExCeL with a successful fourth attempt of 143kg. "I am so happy and thrilled to win the gold medal. I came here to win and make Egyptians proud. It was a great competition and Lucy Ejike was a strong competitor.
"I have been training and preparing for London 2012 for a whole year, as I was pregnant before. My coaches had faith in me that I will come back strong and I am glad that I have met their expectations. This is my fourth participation in the Paralympics and I will keep training until the next one in Rio 2016."
Omar asked Mohamed Mursi, the newly elected Egyptian president, to keep his promise and give equal bonuses to the physically challenged athletes and those able-bodied. She also thanked her husband who helped her to train "and who has always supported me" in her long preparation journey towards London 2012.
Reigning champion Sherif Othman continued the Egyptian gold medal surge and was the star of the show on the second day of the London 2012 powerlifting competition, as he successfully defended his men's -56kg title in style.
The Egyptian won gold with his first lift of 197kg but still struck a frustrated figure after failing to break the Paralympic record and his own world record. "Thank God I got the gold medal," Othman said. "I am disappointed, though, as I had promised the Egyptian people I was going to break a world record here. Unfortunately, I did not do it. I am sorry not to be able to do that."
Othman took gold in Beijing 2008 and the World Championship in Malaysia in 2010.
Silver in the men's -56kg category went to Nigeria's Anthony Ulonnam, his country's third medal of the day. Nigerians collected almost all the powerlifting medals.
Othman's teammate Shaaban Ibrahim added a third medal but only a bronze this time in the men's -67.5 kg class after a new world record was set by China's Liu Lei who took gold by a margin of 10kg ahead of Roohallah Rostami of Iran in silver. Lui opened the competition in style by breaking the Paralympic record with a lift of 218kg, before breaking the world record with 226kg with his fourth attempt.
Shaaban was one of the powerlifters whom Egypt depended on especially after he won the gold medal in both the Khorfakan and Fazaa championships which were held in 2011 and 2012 as preparation for the Paralympics.
In the women's -60kg category, Amal Mahmoud collected the bronze with her opening lift of 118kg. Mexico's Amalia Perez, 39, showed she has taken to her new weight category well by winning the women's -60kg title. She beat her nearest opponent, silver medallist Yang Yan of China, by over 10kg as she broke the Paralympic record with her final competition lift.
Mahmoud tried to lift 125 in her second attempt but failed. "Winning a medal is big satisfaction for me as you have a commitment to your country," said Mahmoud. "I'm happy with the result.�It's been hard work; it has taken four years to get where I am at the moment."
Taha Abdel-Meguid was the first to open the Egyptian medal tally by winning the bronze in the -48kg weight category. He lifted 165kg but failed in his second attempt to lift 170kg.
In athletics, only one Egyptian won a medal, a bronze in the discus. Metawee Abul Kheir won several gold medals during his journey to the 2012 Paralympics but was challenged in London. "I am impressed with my bronze medal and I will train harder to change it to gold in the Rio Olympics in 2016," Abul Kheir said.
In the men's sitting volleyball Egypt beat Morocco and England 3-0 each time but lost to Russia 3-2.
Sports Minister Al-Amri Farouk phoned the Egyptian delegation in London and congratulated them for their "great achievements" asking them to exert their utmost effort "to raise Egypt's flag on the podium."
Hossameddin Mustafa, president of the Egyptian Paralympic Committee and head of the International Sitting Volleyball Federation, said he was "very satisfied with what we have achieved up till now. The players are exerting their utmost effort to collect medals and I am sure we'll add more medals."
Egypt's Paralympians now have six medals in total -- two gold and four bronze.


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