Video of the Week: The African Olympic Qualification Regatta in Alexandria, Egypt
Whatever your take on FISA's decision to include Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka in the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta, the move highlighted FISA's continuing efforts to make rowing (and sculling) a more global affair. While the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave publicly criticized the decision, Issaka became a fan favorite at Eton Dorney, receiving some of the largest ovations at the regatta outside of those reserved for athletes representing the home country.
In keeping with that sentiment, and as someone interested in the international development of our sport, I couldn't help but find the above video fascinating. Shot at the 2011 African Olympic Qualification Regatta in Alexandria, Egypt, the video shows the A Final of the men's single. The class of this field is clearly Nour El-Din Mohamed of Egypt (listed on the FISA website as Nour El Din Hassanein), who would go on to a 20th place finish in London, while James Fraser-Mackenzie of Zimbabwe, in his first Olympics at just 19 years of age, would finish last in the E Final, after having taken eighth place at the 2011 World Rowing Junior Championships on the same course.
Is there a rising tide in world rowing? Given the strength of the performances of India's Sawarn Singh (16th), Cuba's Angel Fournier Rodriguez (a strong seventh, ahead of two-time Olympic champion Olaf Tufte), and Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan (just 22 years old, coming off a victory in the men's single at U23 worlds earlier this year, and racing to a 5th place finish at Eton Dorney), it seems like things are moving in the right direction. Citius, altius, fortius.
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