Al-Gendi and Abdel-Maqsoud
The first edition of the 2023 Pentathlon World Cup season was held at the sports facilities of the American University in Cairo for the second year in a row.
More than 150 pentathletes from 35 countries took part in the one-week competition, aiming at collecting points that would take them through to the next edition in Ankara with the final destination in next year’s Paris Olympics.
Egypt’s Ahmed Al-Gendi came from behind to start the season with an outstanding individual victory, claiming the gold medal in the men’s competition. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist started the Laser Run almost half a minute off the lead but managed his race perfectly to win the men’s final ahead of silver medallist Csaba Bohm of Hungary and Martin Vlach of the Czech Republic who made up five places to claim bronze.
“First, I’m very happy to get this medal in my home country and in front of this crowd and my family, friends and all my coaches. Also, I’m happy to be back on the podium a year and a half after the Olympics, because of injury,” Al-Gendi said after receiving his gold medal.
“Today I’m so happy and so grateful to be back. Four years ago, I won the gold medal here in Egypt, in my first senior World Cup in 2019, and I’m so happy to get my second gold medal again in my home country today.”
In the women’s event, Egypt’s Salma Abdel-Maqsoud won her second consecutive bronze in the season-opener. Following her victory, Abdel-Maqsoud thanked all those who contributed to her success. “Thank you to my coaches and my family and everybody who helped me. The competition was very hard but I started the Laser Run in third and I’m very happy to finish third.
“Through the qualification and semi-finals and now the finals, we’ve already had a great competition here at the first 2023 Pentathlon World Cup in the American University in Cairo,” the President of the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) Klaus Schormann said.
“We saw that the athletes are really well prepared from the winter season and they have adapted to the new format that we will have in Paris 2024. This is very hard, but when you see the results, it is so exciting. The media and all spectators and viewers who saw these two finals could see that we are on the right track in preparation for the Games in Paris.
“For athletes, this World Cup already counts in terms of qualification points for the World Cup final in Ankara where we will have the first direct qualification spots for the Olympic Games. I am quite happy and thankful to all the volunteers, sponsors, supporters and technicians who made it happen — and of course to the athletes for their high performance in a spirit of fairness that shows our sport is in a good position on the way to Paris,” Schormann added.
Schormann told Al-Ahram Weekly that he had asked for the World Cup to be held in Cairo and at the American University, the same facility which hosted last year’s edition, which the athletes ‘‘know and love. All the surroundings of the competition for the athletes are very important because they give them the feeling that they are respected. The 2023 season is already a qualification season for the Olympic Games, however, not all World Cups are qualification competitions, yet the placement is very important for qualifying to the World Cup final in Ankara. Then the winner will have a direct place for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024,” Schormann explained.
“Also, this year, we have the continental competitions with quotas for the Olympics as well as the World Championship where the top three make it to the Games. However, not all World Cup athletes have shown up here in Cairo but will be joining us later in the next World Cup in Ankara. Athletes need only to attend two World Cups in order to be able to qualify to the World Cup final for the point system,’’ Schormann added.
He praised the organisation of Cairo 2023. “What we have seen here in Egypt, which we haven’t seen in a long time, is the quality of Egypt as a host. You know there has always been this case and discussion with Egypt the hosts on the level of organisation but this time it was done well and the setup was very good for athletes and for the horses. This year is the best performance for the riding, parkour, the horses and the access, all three working together, so we have seen excellent results as well.
“And then there is the adoption of the new format which is a very tough system: qualification and then the semis and then the final and so I am more than happy. All my colleagues, all the athletes and coaches now know that this is the format for Paris, so they now have to work on their preparation to make the athletes very secure as they perform.
“I am also more than happy with the start of this season and all that the Egyptian federation is always doing in their preparation for the World Cup. For Egyptian athletes, the federation has a great base. Instead of having one or two athletes there are three or four high level athletes and I think this is a lot of work the federation has been doing for years in all levels, juniors and seniors, in all categories. That base allows the federation to select the athletes. That is the work of more than 10 years now, and we are now seeing the results. I believe this is a big challenge for the Egyptian federation as they now have athletes who are already on the road for 2024 and 2028.”
* A version of this article appears in print in the 16 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly