With a total of 23 medals, Egypt came in first place on the final day of the two-day Karate Premier League, the first time the event was held in an Arab country. Abeer Anwar attended the tournament in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Egypt won the World Karate Federation Premier League held in Sharm El-Sheikh under the auspices of Al-Ahram Organisation and under the patronage of Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb.
Egypt finished with six gold, four silver and 13 bronze medals. It was followed by Turkey with 12 medals -- five gold, three silver and four bronze; and the United Arab Emirates in third with two gold and one bronze.
A total of 464 athletes from 38 countries competed.
The opening ceremony was attended by a number of officials, including Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz, South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda, Suez Governor Al-Arabi Al-Sarou, head of the Arab Olympic Committee Prince Talal Bin Bandar, and dean of the Arab Academy for Science and Technology Ismail Farouk,
Hisham Lofti, head of Al-Ahram Advertising Agency, said it was an honour for Al-Ahram Organisation to be sponsoring such an important sport event. “It is the first time for us to approach karate as a sport but we discovered that it is wide spread in Egypt and Egypt is one of the top countries in the sport so we wish to sponsor their upcoming events and give a helping hand to all sports as we are well experienced in sponsoring international sports events and championships.”
Mohieddin Ahmed, vice president of the Egyptian Karate Federation and head of the organising committee added, “It was a great chance for all Egyptians that Sharm El-Sheikh was chosen to host this international event that is held eight times a year. It’s the first time for the championship to be held in an Arab country so it’s an honour that Egypt got to host it.”
Ahmed said the Egyptian Karate Federation (EKF) made a presentation in 2013 in the Karate World Congress that was held in Germany alongside the World Championship. “I said since we have world champions we should host one of the competitions of the Karate Premier League.”
“We were also honoured because we are on top of the world, ranked No 1 in the world rankings in the youth and under 21 cadets. In the seniors we are fourth,” Ayman Abdel-Hamid, EKF president, said. “A number of delegates from the World Karate Federation paid several visits to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh to ensure that they were right in their decision, especially after the instabilities and terrorist attacks in Sinai but they were very satisfied with the preparation for the event.”
On their medals, Areeg Rashed, silver medalist in the under 60kg weight category, expressed her delight. “It was a great opportunity for me to take part in the event and be able to win a medal because my Turkish opponent was so strong.”
Mohamed Hamdi, Egypt’s gold medalist in the kata, said he was delighted to have raised the Egyptian flag. “We trained a lot to get ready for the event which is held for the first time on our homeland. We wanted to leave a good impression as we are the hosts.”
Giana Lotfi, kumite player under 61kg and gold medalist said, “We had a strong competition this time from Turkey but I was able to win the gold medal as I concentrated on how to collect quick points. She was completely closing up while facing me.”
“I am very happy for Egypt,” Javier Mantilla, chairman of the Pan-American Federation (PKF), and a member of the World KF referees committee, said. “They (Egyptians) are a big country in karate. They are progressing very quickly and this is attributed to their being good listeners and they are working well and spending well on the athletes. They have a number of world champions and I am invited to Egypt to train them on a yearly basis. All of this adds to their experience. I am sure that very soon they will be on top of the world.”
Nasser Al-Rexouki, vice president of the WKF and head of the UAE karate and taekwondo federations, had this to say: “We played as Arabs a big role to have the Premier League in Egypt as it deserves that honour. Egypt is the leading country in the Middle East in karate and it has all the facilities that allows it to host big events in addition to the experience and manpower.”