The Greats of Taekwondo
Eman Sultan

Eman Sultan has come in third at the women's world taekwondo championship in Madrid. Abeer Anwar talks to the

Sultan followed in the footsteps of Tamer Salah who took the bronze medal in taekwondo in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
But Salah failed to pick up anything in the men's world championship which took place simultaneously with the women's.
Sultan, however, made up for the deficit, proving anew that Egypt is far better in individual rather than team sports.

Eman Ahmed Salah, 17, started practicing taekwondo at four. She was fascinated with sports, having been brought up in a
sports-oriented family, and with the idea of fighting. Her father Ahmed played football for Zamalek and her two elder brothers,
Mahmoud and Mohamed, were national champions in taekwondo.

Sultan preferred taekwondo. "I kept praying for her," her father said. "I felt she was going to achieve something because she is
a very hard worker."

Her father and mother accompanied Sultan to all her training sessions at Shams Club and backed her to the hilt. "They strongly
believed in my abilities and this gave me strength and confidence," Sultan said.

Sultan joined the national team at 14 and despite being chosen for the 2004 world juniors championship, a broken leg prevented
her participation. She was chosen for the 2004 Athens Olympics but, again unlucky, injury stopped her in her tracks.

She did go to the Arab Games held in Algeria and took the gold medal and also collected gold in a French international
championship. She dropped to second in a Dutch international event, again because of injury. At any rate, all three events were
in preparation for the big one: the world championship.

"It was my dream to be able to collect a medal and now to take part in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing."

Playing in the bantam weight division (51kg-55kg) Sultan began by beating an opponent from Belarus 9-6. In the second
match her opponent was an Israeli, a situation which could have led her to forfeit the match. But she decided to play. "I felt I
wanted to teach
her a lesson instead of giving her a chance to win by default and I did." Sultan won 7-5.

In the 16th round, Sultan faced Germany's former No 2 in the world and won 9-7. In the quarter-finals, Sultan's winning streak
continued after beating a Brazilian 6-3. But Turkey's world champion, Zeyner Marat, proved too much.

First place went to Korea's Kim Bo-Hye as Korea collected all the women's gold and almost all of the men's.

Sultan was happy all the same. "I am thrilled. I trained very well and I was lucky to get a medal without injury."

"Eman Sultan is a very promising player," Amr Khewiri, Egypt's coach, said. "Her style and performance are excellent and if
she keeps on training hard, I think she will be able to do something in Beijing."

After a short vacation, Sultan, who is in her first year at the Faculty of Law, will start preparing for the African championship
in Madagascar in September.

Abeer Anwar Al-Ahram Weekly ©


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