TOKYO2020: Day 15

Team Algeria’s participation at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has come to a disappointing end today after the elimination of the last representative, Lamya Matoub in the Karate event.

The last time Algeria came away from the Olympic Games with no medals was back in 2004, hosted in the Greek capital of Athens.

History repeated itself after Matoub, the last athlete out of the 44 members who travelled to Tokyo, failed to qualify following three defeats in the Women’s Kumite event +67 kg against the Swiss Elena Quirici (2-1), Iranian Hamideh Abbasali (4-0) then Chinese Li Gong (4-0), and a draw in the final bout against the Egyptian Feryal Abdelaziz (0-0).

Algeria’s delegation were spread out in a total of 14 sport disciplines, but began to stumble, one by one, as the vast majority failed to progress further than the qualifying stages.  It was a failure all around especially in the boxing and athletics, who both sent eight athletes respectively.

The athletes who stood out the most were the triple jump athlete, Yasser Triki and boxer Imène Khelif as they both relatively finished in fifth place in their events.  

After qualifying for the final of the triple jump competition, Triki finished in fifth as well as breaking the Algerian record not once but twice in the same event with a jump of 17.43m, 10 centimetres better than the previous record and just missed the bronze medal by 4cm as the Burkinabe Hugues Zango achieved a 17.47m jump.

Young boxer Khelif also earned a fifth place on the main stage after her defeat in the quarterfinals against the experienced Kellie Harrington of Ireland.

Wrestler Bachir Sid Azara also earned praise after being the only wrestler to progress the farthest in the Men’s Greco-Roman events. He was eliminated in the Repechage against the Serbian Zurabi Datunashvili who subsequently won the bronze medal.

The disappointment then came from the following experienced athletes, boxers Abdelhafid Benchabla, who made his fourth Olympic appearance and Mohamed Flissi’s second participation. It was also a second appearance at the Games for Swimmer Oussama Sahnoune and rower Sid-Ali Boudina.

Barring Triki, the other athletes in the athletics did not stand out, the likes of Abdelmalik Lahoulou in the 400m hurdles, Yassine Hethat in the 800m and Hichem Bouchicha in the 3000m steeplechase.

Not to forget the absence of Olympic Champion Taoufik Makhloufi, who did not travel to the Japanese capital after revealing he had endured a Knee injury. The Algerian athletics legend was an Olympic champion in the 1500m at the London 2012 Olympics and double silver medallist (800, 1500m) at the Rio 2016 Olympics, so his forfeit was a huge loss for Algeria and their chances of earning a place on the medal board.

In addition, bad luck struck on the side of the weightlifting discipline, due to Covid-19, Walid Bidani, bronze medallist at the last World Championships in Thailand, had a good chance of earning a medal in Tokyo. Bidani wasn’t the only one to be affected by the virus as Jamal Sajati (800 meters) and Bilal Thabeti (3000 meters steeplechase) also missed out. Lastly, we saw Judoka Fethi Nourine catch a plane back to Algiers after finding out that he could potentially be drawn against someone from Israel.

To wrap up, in Tokyo, the most represented disciplines for Algeria were boxing, wrestling and athletics with eight athletes for each of them. Followed by fencing with four athletes, swimming (3), rowing (2), cycling (2), judo (2) and sailing (2).

The rest of the Algerian contingent was represented individually in kayaking (1 athlete), weightlifting (1), karate (1), table tennis (1) and shooting (1).

In spite of Algeria’s major disappointment in Tokyo 2020, it has been a pleasure to report here on DZ Sport and we hope that we will see an improvement at the next Games in Paris 2024.

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