Egypt’s Ahmed Akram Abbas put in the best Arab performance of the World Junior Swimming Championships so far when he placed fifth in the 800m finals on Wednesday night in Dubai.
The 16-year-old, who trains at Cairo’s Al Ahly Club, was 0.12 seconds off his personal best, clocking an impressive 8:02.65, in a field that was obliterated by the phenomenal Mackenzie Horton.
Abbas missed out on the podium by a mere three seconds. He also barely lucked out of a final spot in the 400m on day one, placing ninth in the heats, but the young Egyptian is choosing to stay positive as he targets a better showing in his strongest event, the 1500m on Saturday.
“I feel great. This is a world championships and I’m still only 16-year-old and there’s still lots of experiences I can live through. Claiming fifth is still a big achievement,” Abbas told Sport360°.
“It’s true that I placed ninth in the 400m and I was close to the final but I’m sure God has something better in store for me insha’Allah.
“I still have the 400m individual medley (on Friday) and the 1500m, which is my best event. So hopefully I can do better in that.”
Abbas’ coach says they’re hoping for a medal in the 1500m, but that this is all preparing his student for next year’s Youth Olympics in China. His fifth-place finish in the 800m is Egypt’s best performance by a male swimmer at a Junior Worlds.
Amongst the girls however, butterfly specialist Farida Osman was crowned junior world champion in the 50m fly in Peru two years ago.
“This is a very good achievement for an Arab and Egyptian swimmer,” Abbas’ coach, Sherif Habib said. “He’s not even 17 yet and he’s mainly preparing for the Youth Olympics in China next year.
“Placing fifth is great. This is a strong competition and as you can see new meet records are smashed every day. Ahmed has now placed himself amongst the best.
“We are hoping for a medal in the 1500m but I feel that he has put a little bit of pressure on himself. I think that he’s carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, he really wants to win a medal for the Arabs here but still, I could tell that he did a good race in the 800m.
“He finished strong, just like he started. It’s a good sign that he’s coping with the pressure. But experiencing this more than once is what will really make him great.”