LONDON: Saturday marked an historic and dramatic day for Arab athletes competing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics after five medals were won across four different sports.
It was late heartbreak for Saudi Arabia’s Tarek Hamdi in the final of the Men’s Karate Kumite +75kg, as he was disqualified during his bout with Sajag Ganzjadeh of Iran, who departed the mat at Nippon Budokan arena on a stretcher.
The Saudi athlete was left with a silver medal despite going agonizingly close to a gold, but it capped a dramatic day for Hamdi after he had beaten Japan’s Ryutaro Araga 2-0 in a stunning semifinal win.
And the medal win landed him the honor of being gifted SR5 million ($1.3 million) by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, according to Al Arabiya.
It was better news in the karate for Egyptian Feryal Abdelaziz, who won the first Olympic karate gold medal in women’s over-61 kilogram kumite, beating Azerbaijan’s Iryna Zaretska to win Egypt’s second Olympic gold medal since 1948.
The 22-year-old Abdelaziz went ahead on a yuko with 28 seconds left in a cagey final bout. She scored again three seconds later and hung on for a 2:0 victory.
And the day got even better for Egyptian sport when Ahmed Elgendy won silver in the men’s Modern Pentathlon.
The Egyptian, 21, who also competed and won gold at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, pushed the eventual winner — Britain’s Joseph Choong — hard to the line with a strong finish in the fourth round of shooting.
Elsewhere, a remarkable day for Arab sport was rounded off with Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne beating out heavily-fancied, world-record holder Letesenbet Gidey to a silver medal place in the women’s 10,000m race — which was won by star of the Tokyo Games Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.
And finally, Qatar’s men’s Beach Volleyball duo made their first appearance on the Olympic podium when they sealed a bronze medal by beating their Latvian opponents 2-0.