amwalalghad :: Egypt's Poor Performance in Olympics Attributed to Defective Sporting System

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Egypt's Poor Performance in Olympics Attributed to Defective Sporting System

Published Saturday, 18 August 2012 11:13 | Written by Amwal Al Ghad

Karam Gaber, Egypt’s Greco-Roman wrestler, won the silver medal in the 84 kilogram division Monday, raising the country’s tally to two medals in the London 2012 Olympics, both silver. This puts Egypt in the 40th on the overall list of medal winners this year.

Gaber’s win also gives Egypt the edge in another competition: Egypt vs. Phelps. In the history of the Olympics, Egypt won only 26 Olympic medals from 1928 to 2012. Gaber’s silver keeps Egypt ahead of the overall tally of American swimmer Michael Phelps, who alone and over three Olympics tournaments won a total of 22 medals, from 2004 to 2012. Phelp’s 17 gold medals, however, dwarfs Egypt’s total historical tally of seven.

This rather poor overall performance at the Olympics highlights many profound downfalls in the whole sporting system.

Despite participating in the Olympics for more than 80 years, Egypt has been an outright failure in producing champions with any sort of consistency. Athletes, administrators and trainers all agree that Olympics preparation is an exact science, and having successful sports programs depends on whether the country is able to abide by a precise and deliberate system that identifies talents and then nurtures them correctly. In Egypt, that just does not happen.

While it would be unfair to compare Egypt in the Olympics in a country like the US, which has won more than 2,000 medals in Olympics history and was one of the first countries to participate in the games, many countries similar to Egypt in terms of economic and political conditions are still performing better. Mexico and Turkey both have 82 medals, while Iran has 52. Despite participating since 1996 only, even Kazakhstan has the upper hand, with 45 medals.

“Our problem, quite simply, is that we don’t have a sporting system,” said Wissam al-Gharably, the trainer of Egypt’s national Taekwondo team. Gharably, who wrote his sports science PhD on the topic of training Taekwondo Olympians, said that while other countries plan rigorously many years in advance, “in Egypt, it is all random.”

Gharably said sporting federations around the world scope out the talents at a young age, and they should know who would be participating in an Olympic event four to five years in advance.

“In Egypt, coaches and sporting authorities are left to make decisions based on their own preferences,” said Mohannad Saif, a former fencer who competed in Athens and was a representative on the Olympic Players Commission.


He said this leaves many athletes in limbo over their future in their respective sports, regardless of their performances, making many athletes too discouraged by the system to want to continue.

Egyptian Olympians tend to win despite the sports system in Egypt rather than as a result of it. Four months before the start of the London Olympics, Gaber complained publicly about the lack of support he was receiving from Egypt National Olympic Committee. He even decided to have his brother coach him as a way to avoid having to ask the Olympic committee for coaches.

The Egypt Independent