Egypt elated after African Olympic qualification
Africa’s Continental Qualification Regatta, for the 2012 London Olympic Games saw Egypt take the biggest chunk of the nine spots available.
Held in Alexandria, Egypt, the regatta saw Egypt win three of the four events open for qualification. First up was the men’s single sculls with Nour El Din Hassanein earning the first qualifying spot for his country. Hassanein, 23, has raced internationally in the double and quadruple sculls at the junior, under-23 and senior level. This will be his foray into single sculling at the international level. Hassanein’s finishing time at Alexandria was 7:09 indicating that he will be able to hold his own in this event on the bigger stage.
Also qualifying in the men’s single was Zimbabwe’s James Frasher-Mackenzie. The 18-year-old got a taste of the London Olympic regatta course when he raced earlier this year at the World Rowing Junior Championships. Frasher-Mackenzie finished second in the B-final at this event. Cameroon’s Paul Etia N’Doumbe and Aymen Mejri of Tunisia also qualified from finishing third and fourth respectively. Etia N’Doumbe, 27, will be competing at his second Olympics while Mejri has raced internationally predominantly in the lightweight single.
The men’s single was tight for qualification and Kenya’s Kelvin Bwibo was extremely unlucky to miss out on a qualifying spot by finishing in fifth and less than a second behind fourth place.
The women’s single sculls had three Olympic qualification positions available and Micheen Thornycroft from Zimbabwe, 24, finished first to secure a spot. Thornycroft last raced internationally two years ago at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships. This will be her first Olympic Games.
Behind Thornycroft and also qualifying was Amina Rouba, 25, of Algeria and Racha Soula, Tunisia. Rouba has raced internationally in the lightweight single finishing in the B-final at this year’s World Rowing Championships. Soula, 17, raced at this year’s World Rowing Junior Championships at Eton-Dorney and thus got a taste of the 2012 Olympic regatta course.
One qualifying spot was available in the lightweight women’s double sculls and Egypt earned this position. Ingy Hassamel Din and Sara Ashraf Mohamed Baraka finished just ahead of Algeria to secure the position.
The lightweight men’s double sculls also had just one qualifying position open. Egypt again earned the ticket with Omar Emera, 34, and Mohamed Nofel in the boat. The duo completely outshone their competition finishing more than 22 seconds ahead. Emera, 34, and Nofel, 26, raced together at this year’s World Rowing Championships.
Conditions on the Alexandria regatta course were very good for the day of finals which followed two days of preliminary racing.
Preceding the qualification regatta a training camp was held, also in Alexandria. A total of 29 athletes from 15 countries took part as well as 16 coaches. Training camp coach, Andreas Leichtfuss said a wide range of skills participated including those that went on to race in the qualification regatta.
“Some countries have no facilities for rowing at home,” said Leichtfuss. “They can only train in training camps outside their country.” Coaches were taught about running rowing programmes and shared knowledge about rowing technique.
For the latest list of Olympic qualified boats, click here.