Tokyo 2020: How MENA countries performed at the Olympics

Al Jazeera takes a look at how Olympians from the Middle East and North Africa fared at the Tokyo Olympics.

Gold medalist Barshim of Qatar celebrates with his team after winning (and sharing) gold in the men's high jump at the 2020 Olympics [Cameron Spencer/AP Photo]
Gold medalist Barshim of Qatar celebrates with his team after winning (and sharing) gold in the men's high jump at the 2020 Olympics [Cameron Spencer/AP Photo]

From Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui’s shock win in the men’s 400m freestyle to the heart-melting moment when Qatari high jumper Mutaz Barshim suggested sharing a gold medal with Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, athletes from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) had their fair share of medals at this year’s summer Olympics in Tokyo.

They raked in a total of 42 medals, 12 of them gold.

Al Jazeera takes a look at how MENA countries performed in Tokyo 2020.

Tunisia

Swimmer Hafnaoui, 18, shocked the world on July 25 when, against all odds, he overtook 400m freestyle favourites Jack McLoughlin of Australia and the US’s Kieran Smith to give his country its first and only gold medal at this year’s Games.

Hafnaoui’s achievement was all the more impressive given that he had the slowest time in the penultimate round held a day earlier.

That day, fellow countryman and judoka Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi came close to giving Tunisia a gold medal before losing to Italy’s Vito Dell’Aquila in the 58kg category.

Morocco

Soufiane El Bakkali gave Morocco its first gold in the 3,000m steeplechase, clocking in at 8:08:90.

Morocco had not seen gold since Hichem El Guerrouj’s victories in the 1,500m and 5,000m races at Athens 2004.

Egypt

Like Morocco, Egypt put behind a 17-year dry spell after karateka Feryel Abdelaziz clinched a gold medal in the women’s +61kg Kumite event.

Fellow karateka Giana Farouk had, a day earlier, secured bronze for Egypt in the -61 kg Kumite event.

Ahmed Elgendy won silver in the men’s modern pentathlon, becoming the first African to win a medal in the event at the Olympics.

In Taekwondo, Hedaya Malak and Seif Eissa each won bronze in the 67kg and -80kg events, respectively, while Mohamed el-Sayed came third in the men’s Greco-Roman wrestling’s 67kg category.

Qatar

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was the culmination of a decade of hard work for Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim.

After finishing third and second at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics, the 30-year-old Qatari finally struck gold.

That medal was shared with Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi after a nail-biting finale that saw both athletes record a best clearance of 2.37m.

It wasn’t Qatar’s first gold medal at this year’s games.

Twenty-three-year-old weightlifter Fares Elbakh won Qatar its first-ever gold medal after dominating the men’s 96kg, setting new marks for the clean and jerk (225kg) and total lift (402kg).

Elsewhere, Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan made it to the podium after beating Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Edgars for third place in the men’s beach volleyball.

Turkey

With a grand total of 13 medals, Turkey finished as the region’s best performer at this year’s Summer Games.

This includes two gold medals, won by Busenaz Surmeneli and Mete Gazoz in the in women’s welterweight boxing and men’s archery, respectively.

Karateka Samdan Eray won silver in the men’s 67kg event while Buse Naz Cakiroglu came second in boxing’s flyweight category.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia was slated to win a first gold medal at this summer’s games after karateka Tareg Hamedi qualified for the men’s +75kg final.

That was until the referee called off the game and disqualified Hamedi over a high kick to Iranian Sajad Ganjzadeh’s neck.

Hamedi still made it to the podium – but it not for the first place medal he yearned for.

Iran

Iran won a total of seven medals, three of which were gold.

First-time Olympian Javad Foroughi set a new Olympic record of 244.8 points in men’s 10m air pistol event, clinching the first shooting gold for Iran in Olympic history.

And after the disqualification of Saudi Arabia’s Tareg Hamedi over an unchecked attack, Sajad Ganjzadeh was awarded gold in the men’s +75kg karate final.

Fighter Mohammadreza Geraei defeated Ukraine’s Parviz Nasibov and claimed the men’s Greco-Roman wrestling 67kg title. The 21-year-old won Iran its first gold medal in the wrestling competition.

Jordan

Saleh Elsharabaty gave Jordan its second Olympic medal after finishing second at the taekwondo 80kg event.

Abdel Rahman Almasatfa took that tally to three after winning bronze in the Men’s Karate Kumite 67kg.

Bahrain

Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne won the kingdom’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics after clinching silver in the women’s 10,000m.

Kalkidan ran a brilliant race to finish in 29:56.18, behind Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

Syria

Weightlifter Man Asaad earned Syria a bronze in the men’s +109kg category, Syria’s only medal this year.

The 27-year-old posted a 190kg in the snatch category and followed that with a clean and jerk best of 234kg, for a total of 424kg.

Kuwait

Abdullah Al-Rashidi, 57, won a bronze medal for Kuwait in the skeet shooting event.

It was Al-Rashidi’s second Olympic medal, but first for his country after Kuwaiti athletes were not allowed to represent the country at Rio 2016.

Competing against much younger shooters, he hit 46 of 60 targets to comfortably earn his second straight bronze medal.

Israel

Israel won four medals: Two gold and two bronze.

Artem Dolgopyat won the country its second gold medal, but its first in artistic gymnastics.

Linoy Ashram also won a gold medal in all-around rhythmic gymnastics, scoring 107.8 overall and beating three-time world all-around champion and heavy gold-medal favourite, Russia’s Dina Averina, as well as her identical twin sister Arina, a two-time individual world champion.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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