Photo Courtesy: Xinhua/Yang Lei
Commentary by Steven V. Selthoffer, Chief European Columnist
NANJING, China, August 21. LEADING from start to finish, Akram Ahmed, EGY won his country’s first medal ever, gold, in aquatics for Egypt, by winning the men’s 800m freestyle in 7:54.29, at the Youth Olympic Games, Nanjing, China.
In a tight race, stroke for stroke, second place went to 400m free winner, Mykhalio Romanchuk, UKR, 7:56.34, and third was won by Henrik Christiansen, DEN in at 7:57.07.
Ahmed, a future South Carolina Gamecock, has been on the Swimming World radar screen for a while now after posting a 15:09.29 in the 1500m in Belgium more than a year ago as a 16-year-old.
Coached by current Egyptian national coach, Sherif Habib, the former Al Wasal/Dubai coach, Habib has been planning on the YOG events for some time now.
Habib previously stated, “We are really aiming for Nanjing. For the Youth Olympic Games. For us that is the big one. We hope to have the first Egyptian athlete make the podium in swimming. We want to win it. It would be really great for us and for Egypt.”
Ahmed and Habib have shown they can deliver.
Crisis in Egypt
Throughout the past three years it has not been easy training in Egypt. With the political unrest, food shortages and sponsor problems, it hasn’t been the ideal training conditions for anyone.
However, with the performance of Ahmed and Habib, all of Egypt should be proud and dancing in the streets.
It’s a big day for Egypt now. Realistically speaking, Ahmed is well positioned to make the finals in the men’s 1500 in Rio 2016 and has to be considered a threat to make the podium there.
Ahmed is for real. He is also still growing and still developing, but, with Sherif Habib close by, he is someone exciting to watch out for in the coming two years.
Congratulations to Team Egypt!