Egypt’s Hedaya Malak has won her country’s first medal at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, in the women’s 67kg taekwondo event, earning a bronze after defeating Paige McPherson of the US 17-6.
Malak also made history for being the first Egyptian woman to carry the nation’s flag at the opening ceremony of the Games.
She is also the first Egyptian female athlete to win two medals in two consecutive Olympics, having taken bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, becoming the first woman of her country to win a medal in taekwondo at the Olympic Games.
Hedaya Malak — the 1st woman to carry the 🇪🇬 flag at the Olympics — is the 1st to medal for Egypt in Tokyo! pic.twitter.com/HOQKFxmMoe
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) July 26, 2021
The 28-year-old set herself up to attend the Games in February after coming out on top of a qualification tournament in Rabat, Morocco. Her campaign at Tokyo started with a 11-9 victory over Nigora Tursunkulova of Uzbekistan in the round of 16, before being defeated 13-12 by Britain’s Lauren Williams in the quarter-finals.
Egyptian Taekwondo fighter Hedaya Malak secured the first medal for her country after beating Paige Mcpherson of USA while competing for a bronze medal on Monday. pic.twitter.com/ZMuMipiAKN
— Mohamed Saied (@MohamedSaiedF) July 26, 2021
Malak moved up from the under 57kg category from the last Games and her Mexican coach Salazar Blanco was quoted by BBC Sport as saying: “It was very hard for her fighting at -57kg. It was not good for her to be always dieting, it’s not safe”
“So it wasn’t hard to move to -67kg; she just stopped the diet. But we had to build muscle to resist the kicks and we had to work hard on distance because of the taller athletes,” in the 67kg class.
“She had to start from the beginning, get all the points again and move up the rankings. But she doesn’t have anything to prove.”
“She had Covid in November and she is still not 100%. She has been very, very tired. For her the postponement was very tough. Every day, every year it is harder, she is 28. She has a family.”
Her compatriot Said Eissa, 23, also took an Olympic bronze medal after he defeated Norway’s Andre Ordemann 12-4 in the men’s 80kg category raising the country’s tally of four medals for the sport in the history of the Olympics, with Tamer Bayoumi winning a bronze at the 2004 Games in Athens.