Former judo champ ‘honored’ to win top Japanese award

Egyptian judo champion Mohamed Ali Rashwan received the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays from the Japanese ambassador to Egypt in Cairo. (Supplied)
Updated 31 October 2019

Former judo champ ‘honored’ to win top Japanese award

  • The 63-year-old on Monday received the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays (also known as the Sunshine medal)

CAIRO: Former Egyptian judo champion Mohamed Ali Rashwan, famous for his gold-medal bout against Yasuhiro Yamashita at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, has been honored with a prestigious Japanese award.

The 63-year-old on Monday received the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays (also known as the Sunshine medal) from the Japanese ambassador to Egypt at a ceremony in Cairo attended by president of the Egyptian Judo Federation and Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhy.

Rashwan is remembered for refraining from targeting his Japanese opponent Yamashita’s injured right calf during the match at the American games, a decision that cost him gold but won him the respect of the sporting world.

Speaking to Arab News, Rashwan thanked the government and people of Japan for the honor and praised the Japanese people for their high morals and constant support for him.

“Winning the Sunshine medal is a great honor. This award is given to famous people such as artists and ambassadors,” he said.

BACKGROUND

Rashwan is remembered for refraining from targeting his Japanese opponent Yamashita’s injured right calf during the match at the American games, a decision that cost him gold but won him the respect of the sporting world.

Rashwan was born in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria. His first love was basketball, but he started practicing judo after watching a friend fight, and just six months after taking up the sport he won the Alexandria under-18 championship.

For his sportsmanship in the 1984 Olympics final bout, UNESCO issued a statement praising his attitude and rewarding him with its Sport Spirit medal.

“I am the first Egyptian athlete to receive this award,” Rashwan said. “Every year I am invited to visit schools in Japan and meet students, and my story has been incorporated into their pre-school curriculum.

“I was in a lecture once, and the question to the students was: What would you have done if you were in Mohamed Rashwan’s place in the finals of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics?”

He said the answers showed that the students were very interested in his sacrifice.

“The Japanese people welcomed me with all their love and appreciation, and I gave my love and respect to them in return. Japan always thanked me for the stand I took in the 1984 match. When I got sick, a doctor came from Japan to check on my knees and my overall health,” he added.

After becoming a champion in Egypt, Rashwan traveled to then Czechoslovakia in 1975 to participate in his first international championship abroad. 

He has since won numerous international medals. In 1980, he won the bronze medal at the World Military Championships in Colorado. In 1982, he collected two gold medals in the heavyweight division which he defended until the 1983 competition.

Rashwan secured a silver medal in the over-95 kg category in the 11th Mediterranean Games in Athens, and earned a total of 31 medals, including 13 golds, at the Open World Championships.

He was also received the Fair Play Award in 1985 and the World’s Best Athlete Award from the International Olympic Committee, in France.

In Egypt, he was honored by former President Hosni Mubarak, twice being given the Republic Award.


Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

  • Prince Faisal said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup winner Mosaad Al-Dossary was the kind of role model young players should be looking to emulate, according to the Kingdom’s esports gaming chief.

President of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronics and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS), Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, told Arab News he was “proud” of Al-Dossary for his esports achievements and for showing “his class as a human being.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum, in Riyadh, the prince said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

Equating esports to traditional sports, he stressed it was important that young people moderated their time playing video competitions. 

“Moderation in everything,” he quoted his father as telling him.

“Everything has its positives, within reason. I don’t expect our professional (esports) players to be playing for 18 hours a day. What we advocate is having good mental health, social health as well as good physical health.”

Prince Faisal said it was important that youth chose their heroes carefully, and Al-Dossary was an example of the perfect role model. 

“I’m proud of him for all of his many accomplishments in gaming, but I’m prouder of who he is as a person.”

He noted that during Al-Dossary’s winning participation in the Manchester FUT Champions Cup, in the UK, one of the tournament’s young competitors had fallen ill and was taken to hospital. Al-Dossary had ducked out of victory celebrations to go and visit his sick opponent, taking with him the green scarf awarded to world cup qualifiers which he left on the young man’s bedside table as a gift.

“I’m prouder of him for doing that, brightening up his opponent’s day, than I am of him winning the world cup,” the prince said. 

“He showed his class as a human being, not as an esports player. And that’s what we expect of all of our athletes and all of our young kids across all industries and sports.

“That’s the caliber of person that we have in Saudi, in our communities and that’s what I want to showcase to the world.”

Prince Faisal admitted that online harassment could be a problem, but said it was a global issue that could only be solved through education.

“There are errors, and esports and gaming is a new era, and it’s a new era of accessibility. Along with that comes a learning curve and an education curve,”he added.