Arab countries' Rio 2016 performance breakdown

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Ruth Jebet won gold in the women's 3000m steeplechase.

A total of 16 medals were won by Arab countries in Rio 2016 – although Kuwait’s two in shooting don’t officially count towards the nation’s tally due to its suspension by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over government interference in sport.

Those 16 were captured by athletes from nine Arab states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Algeria, Qatar, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and the UAE – across eight different sports. Three of those are gold, four are silver and nine are bronze.

Is that good?

Well it is more than the 12 (three gold, two silver, seven bronze) amassed in London four years ago, but it remains a measly tally collected by 22 Arab countries spread across the Middle East and North Africa.

Bahrain was the highest Arab finisher in the Rio medals table, lying in 48th, thanks to the gold and silver won by Kenyan-born women Ruth Jebet in the 3,000m steeplechase and Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa in the marathon, respectively.

UAE’s Moldovan-born judoka Sergiu Toma was a third naturalised athlete bringing home a medal for an Arab country, getting bronze in the under-81kg category.

But while looking at numbers and figures can paint a depressing picture of how far behind the Arab world remains when it comes to sport, there is much to celebrate when it comes to Arab achievements in Rio this month.

One important stat is that of the 16 medal won, six of them were won by women. For a region that does not always encourage women to take up sport, and with cultural barriers hindering female Arab talent, the fact that 37.5 per cent of the medals won were captured by women is a great achievement. Especially considering that only two Arab women brought home medals in London 2012.

Two of Egypt’s three medalists were women, 18-year-old Sara Ahmed in weightlifting and 23-year-old Hedaya Malak in Taekwondo. Ahmed was the first Egyptian to ascend the Olympic podium in the nation’s 104-year history at the Games.

Saudi Arabia, who up until London 2012 had never fielded any women at the Olympics, had four females competing in Rio – two in athletics, one judoka and one fencer.

Perhaps the greatest progress was felt in the pool. Nada Al Bedwawi became the UAE’s first female swimmer at the Olympics and she was even chosen as the nation’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony. There were nine Arab swimmers in the women’s 50m freestyle heats alone, from countries ranging from Palestine to Syria to Kuwait to Sudan.

One unforgettable moment was when 18-year-old Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, whose incredible story saw her steal the hearts of fans worldwide, won her 50m butterfly heat.

Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy made history as the first female beach volleyball pair from Egypt and they caught the eye of the public with their full-length bodysuits that showed every Arab woman that you can compete in sport without giving up your personal beliefs.

History was not made at the hands of just the women of course. The sensational Ahmad Abughaush brought Jordan its first-ever Olympic medal by taking gold in taekwondo under-68kg action.

Kuwait’s Fehaid Al Deehani, competing as an independent athlete, won his third career Olympic medal, and first gold, in double trap shooting, 16 years after getting bronze in Sydney.

Mutaz Barshim won Qatar’s first-ever silver medal by clearing 2.36m to place second in high jump.

While a lot of work needs to be done in order for Arab countries to give better performances at the Olympics, there is no doubt that what our athletes exhibited in Rio can be used to inspire many generations to come.

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IN PICS: Curtain comes down on Rio 2016

Sport360 staff 22/08/2016
It was a colourful close.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was the surprise star of Tokyo 2020’s clever segment in the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics on Sunday.

While the colourful and loud party at the Maracana Stadium brought the curtain down on Rio’s Games, it also provided a glimpse of what the world can expect in four years’ time.

In an 11-minute interlude that started with an a cappella rendition of Japan’s national anthem, Tokyo showed it was warming up for the Games with a video featuring Olympic athletes and computer game characters passing a red ball between one another.

It ended up with Super Mario who jumped into a green pipe in Tokyo only for Abe to appear with the red ball, and Mario’s red hat, from the other end of the pipe in the Maracana.

Acrobats and gymnasts in neon suits and illuminated frames then took over, in a routine that showcased Japan’s reputation for technological innovation.

It looked slick and expensive, which are two words you could not often associate with Rio 2016, although it had plenty of energy and passion.

Tokyo 2020’s handover show also worked better as a coherent spectacle than London’s effort in the Beijing closing ceremony, which featured dancers, a double-decker bus and David Beckham.

Abe closed the segment by saying: “See you in Tokyo “, and seeing him so involved will have pleased an International Olympic Committee that is looking forward to a host city with fewer economic and political challenges than Rio presented.

Tokyo 2020’s organisers have been careful to respect their predecessors, saying there is much they can learn from Rio, which is true, but much of that will be cautionary tales about the need to test venues and transport plans, and start selling tickets as soon as possible.

Rio found all of that difficult, largely because of its economic problems, but Tokyo cannot afford to be complacent, particularly with a Rugby World Cup to prepare for, too, in 2019.

Tokyo also have five more sports to accommodate, with baseball/softball, climbing, karate, roller sports and surfing joining the programme.

And like most host cities, Tokyo is keen to use the Games as a catalyst for urban regeneration, which tends to add complexity to the plan.

It will also have a problem the IOC avoided this time, by staging the Games in a southern hemisphere winter. Tokyo will be hot, and there are already some concerns that US television will want early finals for their prime time, which will only exacerbate that problem.

But as Japan proved with its successful co-hosting of the 2002 World Cup, it is a dependable venue, and it has, of course, already staged an Olympics in 1964.

The evidence from Rio also suggests that Japan’s athletes should win plenty of medals, which always makes a huge difference to the success of a Games.

What was your favourite moment from this summer’s Olympic Games?

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Rio 2016: Dutt fails in wrestling medal bid

Ishan Sen 22/08/2016
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Falling short: Dutt.

“I’m not going to Rio with plans of winning anything less than gold,” a confident Yogeshwar Dutt announced prior to the 2016 Olympic Games. As he took the mat on the final day of the Games with expectations of adding to India’s demoralising tally of two medals, the country hoped that the veteran wrestler would be good to his word.

The lead up to Rio hasn’t been thoroughly enjoyable for Dutt who had to face several knee issues including as many as five surgeries in 2015. Moreover, he was compelled to alter his weight category to 65 kg freestyle from the 60 kg category in London owing to the recent changes imposed by the wrestling’s ruling body.

But if Dutt’s unbeaten run at the Pro Wrestling League was anything to go by, the Haryana grappler was still a force to reckon with. His gold medal at the Asian Olympic qualifying meet in Astana, Kazakhstan in March 2016 testifies to that.

On Sunday, clad in red, Dutt locked horns with Mongolia’s Mandakhnaran Ganzorig in the Qualification round. Things, however, started off on a poor note for the Indian as he was handed a couple of passivity warnings by the referee before losing one point to Ganzorig by half-time.

The second period witnessed a far more attacking Dutt who tried continuously to get around his opponent but failed to manage a scoring takedown each time. Armed with pace and better tactics, the Mongolian focused on taking down Dutt with a swift counterattack, thereby registering two more points and extending his lead to 3-0.

Despite his several attempts, Dutt fell short of turning the table in the remaining minutes, with the scoreline ultimately proving to be decisive in knocking him out of the Olympics. The two-time World Championships bronze winner was never going to be an easy draw for Dutt, as he happened to find out in the most unceremonious fashion possible.

At 34, Dutt has already featured in four Olympics and is unlikely in participate in another. The only way he could sign off his Olympics career with a win was by winning the bronze via the Repechage Rounds.

All eyes, therefore, were settled on Ganzorig who had to reach the finals in order to create a chance for the Indian.

As it ultimately turned out, Ganzorig was defeated in the quarter finals by the Russian Soslan Ramonov, thereby spelling an end to Dutt’s Olympics campaign and consequently, medal hopes for India on the final day of the Rio Games.

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