Arabs spring into action: the dash to London 2012

Published July 25th, 2012 - 15:17 GMT

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We take a look at some of the Arab world's Olympians competing at London 2012 this week, in our hand-picked panel of sporting giants from Tunisia, through Libya, Egypt, Syria and more.  Whether they're hot Arab Spring favorites for giving their countries a feel-good reward after a tough couple of years, or former champions back to boost the Arab medal count, we celebrate the Middle East's sportsmen and women who are going for broke durnig the coming fortnight. Continue reading below »

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Tunisia's winning stroke: Our pioneer of Arab revolutions looks to crown its Jasmine victory with a Gold. They've done it before with this champion swimmer at Beijing in 2008: Oussama Mellouli took gold making him first African male to win an Olympic solo swimming event.  He's back in London for 3 events, the 400m, 1,500m and 10km open water.
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Image 1 of 13:  1 / 13Tunisia's winning stroke: Our pioneer of Arab revolutions looks to crown its Jasmine victory with a Gold. They've done it before with this champion swimmer at Beijing in 2008: Oussama Mellouli took gold making him first African male to win an Olympic solo swimming event. He's back in London for 3 events, the 400m, 1,500m and 10km open water.

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Tunisia's revolutionary armory from water to land: Wajdi Bouallegue is Tunisia's gymnast par excellence - even the finest Arab & African floor specialist, aired at Athens 2004. He had to lie dormant (against the nature of a gymnast) under Ben Ali after a 2009 life-time ban for insulting the dictator. He only dreamt to summersault at London 2012.
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Image 2 of 13:  2 / 13Tunisia's revolutionary armory from water to land: Wajdi Bouallegue is Tunisia's gymnast par excellence - even the finest Arab & African floor specialist, aired at Athens 2004. He had to lie dormant (against the nature of a gymnast) under Ben Ali after a 2009 life-time ban for insulting the dictator. He only dreamt to summersault at London 2012.

Enlarge
Rich pickings: Our royal contender, a UAE Sheikh, is the flag-bearer with imperial factor! HH Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum will carry the Emirati flag, having played 3 Games in Skeet (clay) shooting. If he wins a medal, he doubles his emirate's Olympic collection, as the UAE’s 2nd medal-holder, (the 1st won by another shooting Sheikh).
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Image 3 of 13:  3 / 13Rich pickings: Our royal contender, a UAE Sheikh, is the flag-bearer with imperial factor! HH Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum will carry the Emirati flag, having played 3 Games in Skeet (clay) shooting. If he wins a medal, he doubles his emirate's Olympic collection, as the UAE’s 2nd medal-holder, (the 1st won by another shooting Sheikh).

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Andrea Pauli strikes-out at her competitors in London, bearing the flag for Cedar dreams! The Lebanese Andrea Paoli, a taekwondo player, will make a record just by being the first Lebanese to compete in the senior category of martial arts at the Olympics.
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Image 4 of 13:  4 / 13Andrea Pauli strikes-out at her competitors in London, bearing the flag for Cedar dreams! The Lebanese Andrea Paoli, a taekwondo player, will make a record just by being the first Lebanese to compete in the senior category of martial arts at the Olympics.

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Ibrahim Bisharat, is Jordan's national horse jockey hope. He comes from a horsing family and is no stranger to Olympic competition, show-boating his equestrian talents in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He'll be show-jumping with his lucky Arabian mare 'Farida'.
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Image 5 of 13:  5 / 13Ibrahim Bisharat, is Jordan's national horse jockey hope. He comes from a horsing family and is no stranger to Olympic competition, show-boating his equestrian talents in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He'll be show-jumping with his lucky Arabian mare 'Farida'.

Enlarge
A female shooter and sprinter are 2 of Syria's bright sparks: Ghafran Muhammad will be sprinting and sharpshooter Rayya Zineddin will blast it for a country already showered with bullets.  Syria, undeterred by politics, submits at least 10 for the London competition.
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Image 6 of 13:  6 / 13A female shooter and sprinter are 2 of Syria's bright sparks: Ghafran Muhammad will be sprinting and sharpshooter Rayya Zineddin will blast it for a country already showered with bullets. Syria, undeterred by politics, submits at least 10 for the London competition.

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Morocco's team spirit will tackle the London Olympics: Aiming to score in the under 23 category is a team playing under the famous Dutch South Korea coach who assistant-coached the UAE. Coach Pim Verbeek carries the Moroccan torch for Olympian success.
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Image 7 of 13:  7 / 13Morocco's team spirit will tackle the London Olympics: Aiming to score in the under 23 category is a team playing under the famous Dutch South Korea coach who assistant-coached the UAE. Coach Pim Verbeek carries the Moroccan torch for Olympian success.

Enlarge
Amr Seoud did not let his country's revolution slow him down: 'Seoud is the fastest man in Africa'. The Egyptian sprinter admits his schedule was disrupted for Egypt's Tahrir uprising and turmoil, and Mubarak's stingy athletic funding streams never helped. Arab record-breaker for a while, he now wants to win a medal for his brave Egyptian people.
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Image 8 of 13:  8 / 13Amr Seoud did not let his country's revolution slow him down: "Seoud is the fastest man in Africa". The Egyptian sprinter admits his schedule was disrupted for Egypt's Tahrir uprising and turmoil, and Mubarak's stingy athletic funding streams never helped. Arab record-breaker for a while, he now wants to win a medal for his brave Egyptian people.

Enlarge
Living on an Olympic prayer: Ali Khousrof lights the way for Yemen: It's been a choppy ride for the 23 year-old Juda-man who trained through shoddy shelter, little electricity & most dramatically a gun-wound. He wants to restore Yemen's image, he says, at London. The revolutionary athlete was shot in the stomach, protesting against ex-President.
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Image 9 of 13:  9 / 13Living on an Olympic prayer: Ali Khousrof lights the way for Yemen: It's been a choppy ride for the 23 year-old Juda-man who trained through shoddy shelter, little electricity & most dramatically a gun-wound. He wants to restore Yemen's image, he says, at London. The revolutionary athlete was shot in the stomach, protesting against ex-President.

Enlarge
Majd Ghazal takes a gigantic leap of faith for Syria: The 25-year-old high jumper will carry his country's flag, and with it Syria's hope  of a silver lining to their darkest clouds. He won a silver medal at last year's Asia Athletics Championships and is feeling quite modest about his chances at London 2012.
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Image 10 of 13:  10 / 13Majd Ghazal takes a gigantic leap of faith for Syria: The 25-year-old high jumper will carry his country's flag, and with it Syria's hope of a silver lining to their darkest clouds. He won a silver medal at last year's Asia Athletics Championships and is feeling quite modest about his chances at London 2012.

Enlarge
Saudi makes speedy strides on track for that Saudi Spring: Runner Sarah Attar at 19 is one of the first women entries for the Kingdom.  She is young and breaking records pre-race just for entering the competition as a Saudi. She's half Saudi -  but it's the right half to allow her to qualify and run the 800m for KSA.
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Image 11 of 13:  11 / 13Saudi makes speedy strides on track for that Saudi Spring: Runner Sarah Attar at 19 is one of the first women entries for the Kingdom. She is young and breaking records pre-race just for entering the competition as a Saudi. She's half Saudi - but it's the right half to allow her to qualify and run the 800m for KSA.

Enlarge
Sofyan El Gadi will be putting Libya's revolutionary high to the water test. Let's hope he can keep the Libyan dream afloat with a stroke of butterfly and good luck. London 2012 marks this 11-time Libyan award-winner's second Olympic appearance. He hopes to swim a personal best at the Games.
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Image 12 of 13:  12 / 13Sofyan El Gadi will be putting Libya's revolutionary high to the water test. Let's hope he can keep the Libyan dream afloat with a stroke of butterfly and good luck. London 2012 marks this 11-time Libyan award-winner's second Olympic appearance. He hopes to swim a personal best at the Games.

Enlarge
And last but not least, Team Palestine go for broke! Springing into action are athletes in Judo, track & swimming, ready to get set and go for some London Olympic sporting that could turn their tide of fortune. They obviously had their get out of jail cards to compete - unlike the Palestinian footballer who had to starve for release (pre-Ramadan).
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Image 13 of 13:  13 / 13And last but not least, Team Palestine go for broke! Springing into action are athletes in Judo, track & swimming, ready to get set and go for some London Olympic sporting that could turn their tide of fortune. They obviously had their get out of jail cards to compete - unlike the Palestinian footballer who had to starve for release (pre-Ramadan).

Enlarge

1

Tunisia's winning stroke: Our pioneer of Arab revolutions looks to crown its Jasmine victory with a Gold. They've done it before with this champion swimmer at Beijing in 2008: Oussama Mellouli took gold making him first African male to win an Olympic solo swimming event.  He's back in London for 3 events, the 400m, 1,500m and 10km open water.

Image 1 of 13Tunisia's winning stroke: Our pioneer of Arab revolutions looks to crown its Jasmine victory with a Gold. They've done it before with this champion swimmer at Beijing in 2008: Oussama Mellouli took gold making him first African male to win an Olympic solo swimming event. He's back in London for 3 events, the 400m, 1,500m and 10km open water.

2

Tunisia's revolutionary armory from water to land: Wajdi Bouallegue is Tunisia's gymnast par excellence - even the finest Arab & African floor specialist, aired at Athens 2004. He had to lie dormant (against the nature of a gymnast) under Ben Ali after a 2009 life-time ban for insulting the dictator. He only dreamt to summersault at London 2012.

Image 2 of 13Tunisia's revolutionary armory from water to land: Wajdi Bouallegue is Tunisia's gymnast par excellence - even the finest Arab & African floor specialist, aired at Athens 2004. He had to lie dormant (against the nature of a gymnast) under Ben Ali after a 2009 life-time ban for insulting the dictator. He only dreamt to summersault at London 2012.

3

Rich pickings: Our royal contender, a UAE Sheikh, is the flag-bearer with imperial factor! HH Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum will carry the Emirati flag, having played 3 Games in Skeet (clay) shooting. If he wins a medal, he doubles his emirate's Olympic collection, as the UAE’s 2nd medal-holder, (the 1st won by another shooting Sheikh).

Image 3 of 13Rich pickings: Our royal contender, a UAE Sheikh, is the flag-bearer with imperial factor! HH Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum will carry the Emirati flag, having played 3 Games in Skeet (clay) shooting. If he wins a medal, he doubles his emirate's Olympic collection, as the UAE’s 2nd medal-holder, (the 1st won by another shooting Sheikh).

4

Andrea Pauli strikes-out at her competitors in London, bearing the flag for Cedar dreams! The Lebanese Andrea Paoli, a taekwondo player, will make a record just by being the first Lebanese to compete in the senior category of martial arts at the Olympics.

Image 4 of 13Andrea Pauli strikes-out at her competitors in London, bearing the flag for Cedar dreams! The Lebanese Andrea Paoli, a taekwondo player, will make a record just by being the first Lebanese to compete in the senior category of martial arts at the Olympics.

5

Ibrahim Bisharat, is Jordan's national horse jockey hope. He comes from a horsing family and is no stranger to Olympic competition, show-boating his equestrian talents in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He'll be show-jumping with his lucky Arabian mare 'Farida'.

Image 5 of 13Ibrahim Bisharat, is Jordan's national horse jockey hope. He comes from a horsing family and is no stranger to Olympic competition, show-boating his equestrian talents in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He'll be show-jumping with his lucky Arabian mare 'Farida'.

6

A female shooter and sprinter are 2 of Syria's bright sparks: Ghafran Muhammad will be sprinting and sharpshooter Rayya Zineddin will blast it for a country already showered with bullets.  Syria, undeterred by politics, submits at least 10 for the London competition.

Image 6 of 13A female shooter and sprinter are 2 of Syria's bright sparks: Ghafran Muhammad will be sprinting and sharpshooter Rayya Zineddin will blast it for a country already showered with bullets. Syria, undeterred by politics, submits at least 10 for the London competition.

7

Morocco's team spirit will tackle the London Olympics: Aiming to score in the under 23 category is a team playing under the famous Dutch South Korea coach who assistant-coached the UAE. Coach Pim Verbeek carries the Moroccan torch for Olympian success.

Image 7 of 13Morocco's team spirit will tackle the London Olympics: Aiming to score in the under 23 category is a team playing under the famous Dutch South Korea coach who assistant-coached the UAE. Coach Pim Verbeek carries the Moroccan torch for Olympian success.

8

Amr Seoud did not let his country's revolution slow him down: 'Seoud is the fastest man in Africa'. The Egyptian sprinter admits his schedule was disrupted for Egypt's Tahrir uprising and turmoil, and Mubarak's stingy athletic funding streams never helped. Arab record-breaker for a while, he now wants to win a medal for his brave Egyptian people.

Image 8 of 13Amr Seoud did not let his country's revolution slow him down: "Seoud is the fastest man in Africa". The Egyptian sprinter admits his schedule was disrupted for Egypt's Tahrir uprising and turmoil, and Mubarak's stingy athletic funding streams never helped. Arab record-breaker for a while, he now wants to win a medal for his brave Egyptian people.

9

Living on an Olympic prayer: Ali Khousrof lights the way for Yemen: It's been a choppy ride for the 23 year-old Juda-man who trained through shoddy shelter, little electricity & most dramatically a gun-wound. He wants to restore Yemen's image, he says, at London. The revolutionary athlete was shot in the stomach, protesting against ex-President.

Image 9 of 13Living on an Olympic prayer: Ali Khousrof lights the way for Yemen: It's been a choppy ride for the 23 year-old Juda-man who trained through shoddy shelter, little electricity & most dramatically a gun-wound. He wants to restore Yemen's image, he says, at London. The revolutionary athlete was shot in the stomach, protesting against ex-President.

10

Majd Ghazal takes a gigantic leap of faith for Syria: The 25-year-old high jumper will carry his country's flag, and with it Syria's hope  of a silver lining to their darkest clouds. He won a silver medal at last year's Asia Athletics Championships and is feeling quite modest about his chances at London 2012.

Image 10 of 13Majd Ghazal takes a gigantic leap of faith for Syria: The 25-year-old high jumper will carry his country's flag, and with it Syria's hope of a silver lining to their darkest clouds. He won a silver medal at last year's Asia Athletics Championships and is feeling quite modest about his chances at London 2012.

11

Saudi makes speedy strides on track for that Saudi Spring: Runner Sarah Attar at 19 is one of the first women entries for the Kingdom.  She is young and breaking records pre-race just for entering the competition as a Saudi. She's half Saudi -  but it's the right half to allow her to qualify and run the 800m for KSA.

Image 11 of 13Saudi makes speedy strides on track for that Saudi Spring: Runner Sarah Attar at 19 is one of the first women entries for the Kingdom. She is young and breaking records pre-race just for entering the competition as a Saudi. She's half Saudi - but it's the right half to allow her to qualify and run the 800m for KSA.

12

Sofyan El Gadi will be putting Libya's revolutionary high to the water test. Let's hope he can keep the Libyan dream afloat with a stroke of butterfly and good luck. London 2012 marks this 11-time Libyan award-winner's second Olympic appearance. He hopes to swim a personal best at the Games.

Image 12 of 13Sofyan El Gadi will be putting Libya's revolutionary high to the water test. Let's hope he can keep the Libyan dream afloat with a stroke of butterfly and good luck. London 2012 marks this 11-time Libyan award-winner's second Olympic appearance. He hopes to swim a personal best at the Games.

13

And last but not least, Team Palestine go for broke! Springing into action are athletes in Judo, track & swimming, ready to get set and go for some London Olympic sporting that could turn their tide of fortune. They obviously had their get out of jail cards to compete - unlike the Palestinian footballer who had to starve for release (pre-Ramadan).

Image 13 of 13And last but not least, Team Palestine go for broke! Springing into action are athletes in Judo, track & swimming, ready to get set and go for some London Olympic sporting that could turn their tide of fortune. They obviously had their get out of jail cards to compete - unlike the Palestinian footballer who had to starve for release (pre-Ramadan).

Reduce

Cooked-up in a restive region, we have a mean brew of horse-jockeys, martial artists, runners, jumpers and gymnasts - and not to leave out of course (where would the Arab world be without them?) shooters. Contenders for Gold, Silver and Bronze include a Sheikh, a hardy survivor-protestor, two Saudi women and many other Arabian wonders that provide spectacles of bravery and endurance in life and sport.

Whether the Middle East takes Gold, it certainly has won hearts and minds with its 'athletic' revolutionary triumphs in the political arena in 2012.

 

Who are your Olympic hopes with this year at London 2012? Share your thoughts, cheer-leading, well-wishes and remarks in the space below.

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