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YEAREND SPECIAL: International achievements of Egyptian athletes remain unnoticed
Published in Daily News Egypt on 22 - 12 - 2009

Egyptian athletes continued their impressive winning streaks in most sports with volleyball, handball, squash and modern pentathlon achieving high rankings on the regional and international levels.
2009 witnessed successful Egyptian participation in the Mediterranean games held in Pescara, Italy during the summer. Egypt finished seventh in the overall rankings table with 11 gold medals, 10 silver and 14 bronze although participating with only 73 players competing in 11 sports, excluding football, volleyball and handball, which officials at the National Sports Council considered a remarkable achievement given the size of other delegations, which dwarfed the Egyptians.
Volleyball
Volleyball marked itself as the most successful sports team this year after winning the African title by beating Algeria 3-0 in the final then beating Iran and Japan to qualify for the world league after a one-year absence, as well as qualifying for the World Cup scheduled to take place in Italy next year.
However, the team concluded the year with a disappointing result, finishing last out of six teams during the World Grand Prix in Japan.
Locally, Al-Ahly won the Egyptian league title while Zamalek snatched the African title and qualified for the Clubs' World Cup, where it crashed out from the group stage after beating Cruzazul from Puerto Rico and losing to Trentino from Italy and Zenit Kazan from Russia.
Handball
In handball, the Egyptian under-20 team finished fourth in the World Cup organized in Egypt beating the likes of Brazil, Qatar, Argentina, Kuwait and Spain before losing to Denmark and Slovenia in the semi-final and third place match despite the huge support from Egyptian fans.
Zamalek, on the other hand, was the team of the season winning the local title despite the intense competition with rivals Al-Ahly and marching on to win the African title to earn a spot at the Club World Cup.
Egypt is set to host the African Handball Cup this February, after it initially withdrew from the tournament because of Algeria's participation and the tense atmosphere between Algerian and Egyptian fans.
Basketball
Basketball was the flop of team sports after Egypt only managed to win one game against Mozambique at the African Cup and lost another five, eventually failing to qualify to the World Cup held in Turkey next year. The team also failed to win the Arab title after losing to Tunisia 70-50 in the final.
Locally, Al-Ittihad of Alexandria returned after a 10-year absence from the local basketball scene to win the Egyptian league title for the 13th time in its history after beating Zamalek 75-68.
The basketball transfer season grabbed the headlines with two controversial moves by Zamalek stars Haytham El Saeed, former club board member, and Samir Gouda to rivals Al-Ahly.
Squash
Meanwhile, Egyptian squash continued to rule the game internationally after Egypt's men team claimed the world team championship and Egyptian players continued to top world rankings.
Karim Darwish ended 2009 on top of the PSA world rankings while Amr Shabana finished third and Ramy Ashour fifth.
Shabana claimed his fourth world open title of the year when he beat his fellow countryman Ramy Ashour 11-8, 11-5 and 11-5 at Kuwait Men's World Open, an achievement that allowed him into the sport's all time greats.
Modern Pentathlon star Aya Medany won two world cup titles in Mexico and Italy to earn third place at world ranking with 178 points, while Amr El Gezeiry ended 2009 in 12th place in men's world ranking.
Egypt claimed African titles in men, women, junior categories winning all available medals and booking two seats at U-18 Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Singapore in 2012.
More wins
Olympic medalist and Judo star Hesham Mesbah won the bronze medal at the world championship in Netherlands and the gold medal at China's Grand Slam. However, he failed to win the gold at the Mediterranean games, finishing 5th and ending the year at 6th place in world rankings at -90 Kg category. Ramadan Darwish finished 2nd in world ranking at -100 Kg category.
In speedball, Egypt continued to dominate the game claiming the title of the 23rd world championship held in Egypt after winning eight gold medals in men and women competitions.
Egyptian bodybuilding team also registered themselves at the achievement records of 2009 after winning the amateur world championship in Bahrain with two gold medals, five silver and three bronze with an overall score of 110 points.
Tennis team managed to stay in African-European group 2 after beating Georgia 5-0 then losing to Slovenia 5-0.
Egypt hosted the 4th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in December with the participation of 600 athletes from a record of 59 countries.


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