At this year’s Rio Summer Olympics Arab nations of the world took home a total of sixteen medals. These medals were awarded to sportsmen and women from nine different Arab states, namely Jordan, Algeria, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco and the UAE. The athletes won medals through eight different sports, three of which were gold, four silver, and nine bronze.
Twenty-two Arab countries across the Middle East and North Africa competed in the Olympic Games, and although we only won sixteen medals, it is an improvement from the twelve medals awarded to Arab athletes four years ago during the Games in London.
Bahrain was the top Arab nation in the medals ranking table, taking forty-eighth position. Bahrain took the gold and silver medals in the three thousand meter steeplechase and long distance marathon respectively.
UAE’s Sergiu Toma was awarded a bronze medal for her participation in the under- eighty-one-kilogram judo event.
Looking at the sporting achievements in Rio this month, six of the sixteen medals were won by women. Arab nations don’t necessarily encourage women to take part in sport, and there are also many cultural barriers which hinder the talent of our female athletes. So, for just over a third of our victories to be won by women is a remarkable achievement.
Two Egyptian women claimed victories; they were the 18-year-old Sara Ahmed for her weightlifting event and 23-year-old Hedaya Malak for Taekwondo. Ahmed was in fact, the first Egyptian to make her way up to the Olympic podium in the one hundred and four years which the nation has been competing in the games.
Saudi Arabia had four women competing in the Olympics this year. Two of them took part in athletic events, one in judoka, and the other in fencing. It is only since 2012 that Saudi Arabian women have been entitled to compete at the Olympics.
Several swimmers took part his year, with nine Arab swimmers competing in the women’s fifty-meter freestyle event alone. The participants were from different nations ranging from Syria to Kuwait to Sudan.
Nada Al Bedwawi made history as the UAE’s first female swimmer at the Olympics, and she was selected to be her nation’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony. The eighteen-year-old Syrian refugee, Yusra Mardini, won her fifty-meter butterfly race, and she touched the hearts of worldwide viewers.
Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy competed as the first female beach volleyball team to be represented by Egypt. They took part in their matches wearing full-length bodysuits, which drew much attention and showed every Arab woman that they can still play sport without giving up their beliefs.
Jordan won their first ever Gold medal, which was taken home by Ahmad Abughaush for the taekwondo under-sixty eight kg event. Fehaid Al Deehani of Kuwait won his third Olympic medal. He took home the gold for his double trap shooting competition. Mutaz Barshim earned a silver medal for Qatar, their first silver medal ever, as he cleared 2.36m taking second place in the in high jump event.
Our Athletes performed at a much higher level at this year’s Olympics than ever before. Their performances are an inspiration to the future generations of athletes.