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To some, there is nicer
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 09 - 07 - 2009

The XVI Mediterranean Games in Pescara are over but not before several athletes decided they wanted to remain in Italy, Ghada Abdel-Kader reports
Egyptian weightlifters El-Sayed Hassouna and Gaber Mohamed both chose not to return to Egypt after winning medals in the Mediterranean Games which ended in Pescara in Italy.
The president of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation Mahmoud Shoukri said the Egyptian Olympic Committee and the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation "will take the necessary measures in coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to report on the escapees." President of the Egyptian National Sports Council Hassan Sakr has asked for a detailed report on the matter.
Hassouna 85 kg, won a silver medal in the clean & jerk and Mohamed, 94 kg, a silver in the snatch and one bronze in the clean & jerk.
Egyptian athletes were not the only ones seeking some sort of asylum. Four Tunisian athletes also sought to stay in Italy following their arrival in the Italian city. Weightlifter Hamdi Dghaman, 85 kg and 22 years old, fled upon his arrival at Pescara Airport before the Games even began, hoping to immigrate to Italy.
Dghaman won two bronze medals in the world Youth Championship in 2007.
Tunisian cyclist Hassan ben Nasr, who was supposed to race on Friday, suddenly disappeared from view. Then, Tunisian Greco-Roman wrestler Hamza Al-Lawati ,66 kg ,and sprinter Ramzi Al-Abbasi in the 800 metres vanished, too.
The asylum seekers did not hamper the results. In the medals table, Italy came out on the top with 64 gold, 49 silver and 63 bronze medals for 176 medals. France was second with 48 gold, 53 silver and 39 bronze, Spain finished third with 28 gold, 21 silver and 34 bronze and Turkey ended up fourth with 20 gold, 19 silver and 26 bronze. Greece was fifth with 19 gold, 14 silver and 31 bronze. Tunisia came sixth with 13 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze. Serbia managed seventh with nine gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze. Egypt was eighth with 11 gold, 10 silver and 13 bronze for 34 medals.
The closing ceremony of the 26 June to 5 July Games was its all-white affair. Held in the main streets of Pescara, those who attended dressed in white. The closing ceremony was directed by world renowned artist Marco Balich who also supervised the impressive opening ceremony. The head of the Pescara organising committee, Mario Pescante, said the closing ceremony emphasised the elements of culture, tradition and sport.
The ceremony differed from the usual as athletes and officials paraded along Piazza Salotto, the heart and core of activity of Pescara.
As they proceeded to the sea for one last celebration along the Mediterranean waters, the darkness of the night was illuminated by the presence of thousands of all-white athletes and inhabitants of the city.
The march of athletes from 23 countries was followed by the traditional protocol and handing over of the Games' flag to the mayor of Volos who will be organising the Games in 2013.
During the tournament, Egyptian gymnast Walid El-Derini gave the Games a scare when he injured himself while on the pommel. Missing a movement with his feet, he took a serious fall and a blow to the neck.
El-Derini was rushed to hospital and underwent a general examination before being released.


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