Egypt has not yet been represented by tennis players at the Olympic Games, but things are about to change in Tokyo 2020.
This week, not one, but two Egyptian tennis players earned spots at the international sporting event. Mayar Sherif and Mohamed Safwat each won gold at the African Games and are now set to make history as the first Olympic tennis competitors from Egypt.
Morocco is hosting the 2019 African Games from Aug. 16 to 31, whereby athletes from across the continent are competing in 26 different disciplines.
In tennis, Egypt's Sherif not only beat South Africa's Chanel Simmonds 2-0 in the final of the Women's Singles competition but also won the Doubles event alongside her partner Rana Ahmed. The 23-year-old is thus scheduled to make her Olympic debut next summer, on the condition she maintains her spot among the world's Top 300. She is currently ranked 256th in the Women's Tennis Association Singles Ranking.
Born in Cairo, Sherif studied sports medicine at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and played as part of the university's women's tennis team.
Sherif will be joined by her compatriot Mohamed Safwat in the men's event at the 2020 Olympic Games.
In the first-ever all-Egyptian final match at the African Games, Safwat won over Karim-Mohamed Maamoun 2-0 and secured a ticket to Tokyo 2020. Currently holding the 233rd place in the Association of Tennis Professionals Men's Singles Rankings, the 29-year-old is required to maintain his spot among the world's Top 300 in order to compete at the upcoming Olympics.
Speaking to Arab News back in May 2018, Safwat shared his experience as an Arab athlete aiming to succeed at an international level. He said Arab athletes - himself included - often tend to victimize themselves and pin their shortcomings on exterior factors.
"We shouldn't act like victims because of our circumstances and feel that the world is against us," he said. "I lived that role for a while, and when I snapped out of it, I realized that we aren't the only players in the world that don't have support."
Egypt won big at the African Games, with its athletes scoring more medals than those from any other participating country. Egyptian athletes came home with a record-breaking total of 229 medals, of which 79 were gold. According to the Egyptian Olympic Committee, this marks the highest number of medals ever scored by a single country at the African Games.
Here's how Egyptian Twitter users celebrated the news:
People's faith in Egyptian sports has been restored
"Thank God, after checking the accomplishments of Egyptian athletes at the African Games, I have plenty of hope and positive energy regarding the future of Egyptian sports. Mayar Sherif made history as the first female Egyptian tennis player to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games."
"They're rewriting history"
"For the first time in history, we have male and female tennis champions at the Olympic Games. They're rewriting history. Long live the people of Egypt."
Egyptian pride in all its glory
"Mayar Sherif is a source of pride for Egyptian tennis. Congratulations, champ."
"More and more glory"
"Long live Egypt and its people"
"Egypt is returning in full force"
"Egypt is returning in full force. Egyptian national team player Mohamed Safwat won gold in the Men's Singles event at the African Games in Morocco."
A national dream come true
"Egypt's Mohamed Safwat makes his dream come true and qualifies for the Olympic Games."