Interview: Gymnastics; Behind the scene!

Gymnastics- the extreme sport rated with professional wrestling- has been witnessing a rapid growth in the numbers of junior gymnasts data base but in a certain age that base demolishes and no world records are to be set. Such thing erupted many questions and luckily one professional and most experienced man answered many of them in an interview with Amwal Al Ghad English.

Firstly he introduced himself, Raouf Abdel Karim Raouf, 37 years old, a Sydney 2000-Olympic Gymnast, an Olympic Coach London 2012, first place on Vault in World Championship 2003, overall gold medal in the Mediterranean Games Championship 1997 and Bronze medal in the same competition in 2001 as well as many winning several medals in African championships.

Raouf is also the Male Artistic Gymnastics (MAG) National Team head coach, MAG National Youth Team coach, artistic gymnastics general coach in Heliopolis Sporting Club, carrying PHD from the Faculty of Physical Education, MAG international judge and former MAG Technical Committee President.

Asking the international judge how he managed achieving all of that in small age, he frankly answered that his family comes at first as the main motivator and the prior reason for his success specially his father. “I would not have achieved anything without their support.”

Secondly, the talent, apparently one can’t be anything in gymnastics without having the talent. At last but most importantly, the Egypt Gymnastics Federation (EFG) back then helped him a lot with the necessary support and training. EFG at that time contained high profile gymnasts and experts, very well organized, and extremely experienced coaches all gathered around one purpose- either were they foreigners or Egyptians -which is the benefit of the players first. EFG heads were Coach Abd El Raof El Hagrsy and Ali Abd Al Rahman.

The Olympic champion further added that in his generation there was also Walid Said El Dariny who has won the third place on Rings in the World Championship and the sixth place over all in World Championship 2001 and bronze and the third place in Mediterranean Games Championship 2001.

Notably Raouf’s generation was fruitful and had many accomplishments, so this hits the question of why Egypt now doesn’t have champions like Walid and himself?

“First of all, the instability of the administration. For the first time the history of Egyptian gymnastics 8 federation were changed only in 7 years and the ninth is in the way! As a result, planning collapsed and gone with it the technical committee sustainable long-term planning- technical committees are responsible for setting the requirements and specifications of every age and level of gymnastics according to the international gymnastics law. The sustainable planning we used to have created high level gymnasts who were able to succeed and break world and local records, but now the confusion and changing the plans created a generation that is not well prepared or organized with no identified plan to qualify them.”

As many of us may have heard of the famous controversy in 2012 federation, when asked about that he replied that the issue erupted when intruders invaded gymnastics world without knowing a thing about gymnastics neither did they ever been a gymnast.that occurred due to some defected bylaws originated by  government.

That caused outsiders not only in our federation but also in some other federations. This created crisis as the head of the federation- who is supposed to be in charge-knows nothing about gymnastics. As Gymnastics is a very unique and special kind of sport, there was no way possible for someone who never practiced it to run its responsibilities. The major result was that the game had to fall down and resulted in the first time in gymnastics history to have 8 federations in 7 years only.

Raouf- the National Team Head Coach- noted that this crisis is predicted to happen again in a grosser form as it had already happened. For example football federation contains only one former player as a member. In gymnastics also, the previous federation had the president and other 2 members outsiders who never practiced gymnastics before. That’s why we desperately need the bylaw in order not to get disbarred from FIG. Even if we were not deleted we will not the sufficient administration to qualify players for international competitions.

With all these conflicts Raouf explains that right now there’s no federation, only an unelected temporary committee in charge of the federation’s duties, which caused many troubles because the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) pushes for an elected one.

The coach further adds about the current federation situation that having an elected federation right now will not be possible, as we don’t have the bylaw by which we can form an elected council, also the Sports Law has not been issued so far. As a result we’ll not be able to perform elections, and the law is supposedly to be issued by the government and presented to the People’s Assembly that does not exact.

“As a matter of fact, the federation and gymnastics problems started in 2010 and when the revolution erupted the problems escalated especially with the governments’ change. Furthermore, the financial support the government is supposed to provide the federation with has also been affected which also has effected on the federation’s stability and problems.” The National Youth Team Coach stated.

When the coach was asked about the bylaw he announced that the previous federation-headed by Abdel Hamid Abdel Mohsen- set a bylaw and was approved by FIG, but, most astonishingly, Egypt’s General Assembly only to serve their personal interests.

Raouf also said that that this issue is out of the ministry’s hands; according to the Olympic Charter it is not the ministry’s right to interfere by any mean in the federations’ actions. It is the General Assembly’s responsibility to set and approve regulations, codes and bylaws. The ministry now tries to help by forming a tripartite committee headed by Hassan Moustafa – the president of the International Handball Federation- who is authorized from National Olympic Committee (NOC) to solve any sports problem. The tripartite committee also includes Hesham Hatab the NOC vice president. This committee tries to reach a consensus bet FIG and EGF.

“FIG can do nothing but observing as it has no authority to interfere.” He said.

Moreover, Raouf sadly announces that it is too difficult for WAG and MAG in Egypt to achieve anything internationally in the current time due to the legacy of many years of technical and administrative instability.

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