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Jordan caps Tokyo Games with two medals, awaits Paralympics

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 07,2021 - Last updated at Aug 07,2021

AMMAN — As the Tokyo 2020 Games draw to a close, the Jordanian contingent ended participation on a fine note after clinching a silver and bronze medal which put the Kingdom on the medals table of the world’s biggest sporting competition. 

Saleh Al Sharabaty became a new national hero winning a silver medal for Jordan in the taekwondo under 80kg category, following in the footsteps of teammate Ahmad Abu Ghaush who won the country’s first ever Olympic medal — a precious gold — at the Rio Games in 2016.

The second medal was secured by 5th year medical student Abdul Rahman Al Masatfa who clinched a bronze in the under 67 kg category as karate made its debut as an Olympic sport.

A record 14 athletes represented Jordan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — the biggest delegation to date, headed by ex-taekwondo star Nadine Dawani. Athletes competed in eight sports: taekwondo, karate, boxing, judo, equestrian, swimming, shooting and athletics.

The Games also marked the highest numbers of qualifiers with 10 of the 14 athletes qualifying through competition. As with most Arab athletes who have settled for the idea of symbolic participation at the Games, Jordan’s contingent included a combination of athletes qualifying to the Games while others received the International Olympic Committee invitations which respect the principle of universal representation. 

Apart from the qualifiers, non-qualifying athletes take part based on the “quota” or wild card system which aims at making sure countries from all corners of the globe are present. 

Until 2000, table tennis was the only game whose athletes qualified through competition, through players Jacqueline Duqum in Seoul 1988, Nadia Rashad in Barcelona 1992 and Tatiana Najjar in Sydney 2000. 

Taekwondo and boxing followed soon after. In 2004, table tennis’ Zeina Sha’ban, equestrian’s Ibrahim Bisharat and taekwondo’s Nadine Dawani and Ibrahim Aqil qualified to the Athens Olympics. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Dawani, Bisharat and Sha’ban again qualified. 

In 2012, Jordan had Mohammad Abu Libbeh, Dawani and Raya Hatahet qualifying in taekwondo, Bisharat in equestrian and Ihab Al Matbouli in boxing. In 2016, it was Abu Ghaush in taekwondo and Hussein Ishaish in boxing. 

This year, the 10 qualifiers included equestrian Ibrahim Bisharat; boxers Ziyad Isheish, Hussein Isheish, Ali Hindwai, Mohammad Wadi and Obada Kasba; Sharabaty and Juliana Sadeq in taekwondo; Younes Salman in judo and Masatfa in karate. Those invited to compete included Asma Abu Rabee in shooting, Talita Baqleh and Amr Al Wir in swimming, and Alia Bushnaq in athletics.

The 2016 Rio Games will always be remembered for the Games when a single athlete made history for Jordan. Then a 20-year old Abu Ghaush, who came in top spot in taekwondo’s 68-kilogramme category, was the youngest competitor in his weight class and also became the first taekwondo athlete in the Arab world to win gold. He was 2012 World Junior Champion, 2012 Asian Junior Champion and 2016 Asian Olympic qualifying gold medallist.

Previously, ever since first participating in the 1980 Olympics, Jordan’s national anthem was played only once before when Maha Barghouti won a gold medal in wheelchair table tennis at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000.

In the past, there were significant achievements in taekwondo like three bronze medals at the 1988 Seoul Games by Samer Kamal and Ihsan Abu Sheikha, and at the 1992 Barcelona Games by Ammar Fahed. However, taekwondo was still considered an “exhibition sport” at the time.

The Tokyo Games marked the 11th time for Jordan at the Olympics where over 11,600 athletes from 206 nations competed in the Olympics postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The Games come to an end on Sunday with the closing ceremony following which the Olympic flag will pass on to the host of the 2024 Games — Paris, France.

Jordan now awaits the Paralympics which will start on August 24 with the nation competing in three events: table tennis, athletics and weightlifting. Since 1984, Jordan has won a total of 12 medals at the Paralympics (1 gold, 6 silver and 5 bronze).


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