Abouelkassem first African to reach Games semis

LONDON Wed Aug 1, 2012 12:08am IST

Egypt's Alaaeldin Abouelkassem celebrates defeating South Korea's Choi Byungchul during their men's individual foil semifinal fencing match at the ExCel venue at the London 2012 Olympic Games July 31, 2012. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Egypt's Alaaeldin Abouelkassem celebrates defeating South Korea's Choi Byungchul during their men's individual foil semifinal fencing match at the ExCel venue at the London 2012 Olympic Games July 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

LONDON (Reuters) - Egypt's Alaaeldin Abouelkassem beat world number one Andrea Cassara of Italy in the men's foil on Tuesday to become the first African fencer to reach the semi-finals at an Olympics.

The 21-year-old from Alexandria beat Cassara by a score of 15-10, using an athletic combination of running attacks that kept the Italian, who took bronze in Athens, off balance.

"I am the first African or Arabian who make this result. But it is not finished yet. I still have semi-final or final or bronze medal match so I have to concentrate on the next one," Abouelkassem said.

"I think every match I am better than the match before, so I think the last match I was better than the match before that and so on," he added.

Announcers referenced the historical importance of his achievement, drawing louder applause from the spectators, many of whom are new to fencing and are getting commentary through wireless headsets to explain the rules and blisteringly fast action.

Abouelkassem has broken into the top 10 on the Federation International d'Escrime point rankings in the last two seasons.

Eighth in the world, he did come tantalisingly close to a semi-final in the 2010 Paris world championships where he took sixth.

Abouelkassem trained in Alexandria before the London Games opened instead of Cairo as the capital is in political upheaval in the wake of the Arab Spring which led to the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 after 30 years in power.

The margins of victory were consistent, as he beat his opponents 15-10 in every bout, or match, of the day, including a triumph over perennial threat and four-times world champion Peter Joppich of Germany in the round of 16.

"My dream is over. I am of course very disappointed. I came here to win," said Joppich.

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Champions' Clash

Champions' Clash

Real's Ronaldo on course to face Bayern.  Full Article 

Coach Quits

Coach Quits

Farbrace resigns as Sri Lanka coach, set for England role.  Full Article 

Winning Zeal

Winning Zeal

Guardiola says impressed most by Bayern's zeal for success.  Full Article 

Wrist Injury

Wrist Injury

Djokovic plays down injury fears, back for Madrid.  Full Article 

Comeback Challenge

Comeback Challenge

Phelps facing toughest challenge yet.  Full Article 

Doping Ban

Doping Ban

Three staff linked to Armstrong doping get long bans - USADA.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage