In the city where he is a second-year college student in business administration, Amr Ibrahim Mostafa Seoud won Egypt’s first men’s 100m gold medal at the Pan Arab Games in more than 40 years yesterday (22). In so doing, on day two of the four-day Games, he maintained an extraordinary national record-breaking sequence.
After a cautious start, and trailing Saudi Arabia’s Yahya Al Kahes for 80 metres, Seoud powered to victory with a late surge, setting an Egyptian record of 10.38 seconds. It means that, in each of the five international events in which he has participated this year, the 21-year-old Seoud has set a national record at either 100m or 200m.
Al Kahes had by far the better start and, at 50 metres, there seemed no way he would be caught. “My first 30 metres was not so good,” Seoud said. “The distance between him and me was growing but I got focused after 50m and I got him.” Seoud explained that, after one false start for the race, and the threat of disqualification for the next man to jump the gun, he did not dare take a risk.
“The Saudi Arabian had the first false start and I was worried about going out like the other Egyptian (Ahmed Mohamed Ali) yesterday,” Seoud added. Al Kahes took his defeat on the chin, accepting his fate. “I had a great start but I don’t know what happened in the last 20 metres,” he said. “I’m happy but I would have been happier with the gold. Maybe I will have the chance next time.”
Seoud is the first Egyptian winner of the title since 1965 but the third to claim it in his own country. Emad El Shafei took the gold at the first Pan Arab Games, in Alexandria, in 1953, and Mohamed Ahmed El Guindi followed suit in Cairo 12 years later.
National records aplenty – Beijing ambitions
Once Seoud gains more confidence in his start, he believes that he is capable of a legal time close to the 10.11 he recorded in domestic competition this season but which could not be ratified because there was no wind reading.
Seoud, the World University Games 200m champion this year, began his sequence of national records at the Arab Championships, in Amman, in May, when he was runner-up in the 100m in 10.45. In the All Africa Games, in Algiers, in July, he set a national 200m record of 20.83 in the semi-finals, although he was slower in the final, finishing fourth.
On to Bangkok, for the World University Games, and Seoud took 200m title in a national record 20.74, improving it to 20.65 in reaching the second round of the World Championships, in Osaka. Has been breaking national records since 2003 when, just two months after taking up athletics, he was picked for the World Indoor Championships, in Birmingham, England, and set a national mark of 6.93.
In 2004 Seoud earned a scholarship to the Dekalb International Training Centre, in Atlanta, where he was coached by Innocent Egbunike, the 1987 World Championships 400m runner-up. However, injuries cost him his scholarship there, although he was undeterred.
In 2005 Seoud was back on the path of improvement, while training at the IAAF High Performance Centre in Dakar, only to be derailed by injury again. No longer training in Dakar, he competed mainly in domestic events in 2006, setting a national record of 10.48 in the Egyptian Championships.
Sundanese sweep of one and two lap titles
Even though Seoud combines athletics with his studies at the Canadian International College, his goal for next year is clear. “I am waiting for a medal in the Olympic Games,” he said. More immediately, there is the 200m today and tomorrow and a potential clash with the 400m champion here, Nagmeldin Ali Abubakr, from Sudan.
Abubakr produced a strong finish to pass Saudi Arabia’s Hemdane Awida in the home straight and record 46.16, to some extent making up for his disappointment in Osaka, where he pulled up injured during the first round.
He thus played his part in a Sudanese sweep of the men’s and women’s 400 and 800m titles, all staged yesterday.
While Nawal El Jak took the women’s 400m in 54.15, and Amma Bakhit the women’s 800m in 2:07.95, their victories were dwarfed by that of Abubakr Kaki in the men’s 800m. Kaki set a championship record, and the fourth quickest time in the world this year, running a solo 1:43.90. Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Al Salhi took the silver medal almost three seconds behind Kaki, who also won the All Africa Games title, in Algiers, in July, when he defeated South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the World Indoor champion.
At the opposite end of the scale of Kaki’s time yesterday was the women’s 5000m, which produced the slowest winning performance in Pan Arab Games history by almost three minutes. It amounted to a 4600m warm-up, with not one athlete prepared to chance an injection of pace, and a 400m sprint as Tunisia’s Safa Issaoui produced a 62 seconds last lap to win in 19:13.96.
David Powell for the IAAF