Mohamed Shaaban was elected as a member of the executive council of World Taekwondo, securing Egypt’s set that was held by General Ahmed Al-Fouly for almost 15 years.
“I decided to run because I didn’t want to lose a place that has always been filled by Major Ahmed Al-Foli who passed away and whom I consider my godfather,” Shaaban, 43, told Al-Ahram Weekly. “Al-Foli suffered a lot to secure a place for Egypt so I thought I should do my best to keep it.” Shaaban said it was a tough election among 41 candidates competing for 17 seats. “Africa as a continent had 15 voices to choose three candidates, two men and a woman, with the whole world to vote (160 votes),so I was lucky to be one of them.”
Shaaban started practising taekwondo at 13 when he joined Al-Zohour Club. He won medals in the nationals and joined the national team at 17. He participated in a number of world championships until he decided to retire and start a career at P&G in Geneva, Switzerland.
In 2011, Shaaban returned to Egypt and decided to go for the Egyptian Taekwondo Federation elections and was elected as a board member in 2012. In 2013 he headed the technical committee of the federation and the African technical committee. He became director of the national teams, inspiring Egypt to a series of trophies and medals, including Hedaya Malak’s bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As well as Seif Eissa’s bronze medal at Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
In 2015, Shaaban was chosen technical vice chairman of World Taekwondo (WT) Africa and later became WT vice chair of the technical committee.
In 2017, Shaaban won his first term as chairman of the World Taekwondo (WT) Games and Equipment Committee, the first African to head the committee.
He was credited for improving all aspects of taekwondo. Proving himself, he was granted a second two-year term.
Shaaban was the first Egyptian to supervise a tournament at an Olympic Games, as he was in charge of taekwondo at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. “We were able to develop an electronic system to match all the taekwondo techniques. This was done in a way that assesses the technical difficulty of the technique and provides scoring that is equivalent to that technique without any human intervention,” explained Shaaban.
“We made sure that whatever competition we were running, it was with the highest standards following our protocols and at the same time making sure it was smooth without any technological problems.”
Although the head of the Global Category Finance Commercial Organisation – the Logitech company in Switzerland, Shaaban says taekwondo is his passion. “I am always capable of managing my time and balancing life between what you do and what you like.”
Shaaban plans to help promote taekwondo beyond existing followers and platforms, creating more reach to general public participation via E-sports and other competitive formats to attract new audiences and new athletes especially in Africa. Africa is a big continent but a lot has to be done to increase the federations’ engagements .
“We have to spread the sport more. I am also after further enhancements to the existing taekwondo ecosystem (OCs, competitions, athletes and coaches) via educational programmes and possibly establishing a WT service company to take charge end to end of G4+ competitions in relation to organisation and logistics,” Shaaban said. “I will work hard on ensuring uniform high standards across the world as taekwondo is a sport that is capable of this and we have to set an example for other international federations as we did during the 2020 Tokyo Games.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 October, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly