POSTED: Friday July 20th 2012

Modern Pentathlon: Medany a Veteran at 24

Medany has won alot of titles in her short carrer
Medany has won alot of titles in her short carrer

Medany is one of the sports best fencers
Medany is one of the sports best fencers

Can she win Olympic gold at her 3rd attempt?
Can she win Olympic gold at her 3rd attempt?

Although Aya Medany is just 24 years old, she is a veteran in the sport of modern pentathlon.

The Egyptian, who shares her namesake with a 13th century queen, will compete in her third Olympics this summer in London.
At the age of 15, Medany attended her first Olympics in Greece.

“In Athens, I was the youngest one in pentathlon and the Egyptian Olympic team,” Medany told the BBC in an interview recently. “I was shocked at what I saw, there were so many people.”

Despite running well, the teenager succumbed to pressure and nerves, finishing in 28th place. But that's not to say the experience wasn't rewarding in its own way. Set in scenic Athens, the adolescent enjoyed the sights, as well as the food.

"There was a lot of food and I gained four kilos,” she told the BBC. “I was very happy that I found a lot of food, you could find everything in there. 'Wow! Let's eat!' Every time I went in there, I ate. I didn't think about it. I was enjoying myself, I was playing.”

But after 2004, Medany went to work.

She quickly rose in the rankings, collecting silver medals at Junior World Championships, followed by podiums at elite meets, then gold medals at world cups. In 2007, she had her biggest breakthrough of all when she became a world champion.

Medany wasn't the only person with reason to celebrate that year. Her father, whom she cites as her biggest influence, became a Nobel Peace Prize winner as a part of the Al Gore group for their work on climate change. A humble man, her family delayed celebrating the impressive accolade in lieu of Medany´s impending second Olympics.

“He didn't want me to focus on it (his achievement) because he wanted me to focus on Beijing,” Medany said.

Sure enough, shortly thereafter, Medany made her way to her second Olympics in 2008 with more confidence and experience under her belt. After an incredibly successful Olympic cycle, she was poised to bring her country inspiration and pride with a high finish.

With a small Olympic team, Egypt had earned just one medal throughout the Games. At that point, the Egyptian media spotlight turned towards Medany.

“All of Egypt was waiting for me to bring a medal,” Medany recounted. “The media focused on me the last three days. Normally we don´t have this kind of pressure. When the sudden attention, it changed everything.”

Not accustomed to the attention, a stressed Medany finished outside of medal range in eight place. While viewed as a disappointment by her compatriots, her performance was still a dramatic improvement from Athens.

Since China, both Medany and her country have undergone significant changes, neither of which have made her position as an elite athlete easy.

A Muslim, Medany always knew she would one day done a hijab, she just didn't know when.

“We have the choice,” a patient Medany explained. “Whenever we want to do it, we can do it. When you feel that you can do it, you do. I always knew sooner or later I would.”

After the Games in China, Medany began competing in the Hijab to conform with her religious views. She also began covering her arms and legs, as opposed to cooler and faster running attire. Albeit slightly more obstructive, the real problem is in the water.

Due to bathing suit regulations, athletes cannot wear suits that cover past the knees, nor shoulders. For the Muslim, who runs, rides, shoots, and fences fully covered, this presents an issue.

“I have made an appeal, but there was no response,” Medany said.

Following London, Medany will have to choose whether she wants to continue competing with her body exposed or whether she will retire. However, more than just her bathing suit may assist her in her decision.

Lately, the two-time Olympian has been battling an injury that could take her out of the game.

“I have a lot of pain in the joints around my hip,” Medany said to the BBC. “I have a problem with the nerve and the muscles around it.”

While her previous training schedule would have consisted of training in the morning and afternoon, Medany now spends her second practice session completing physiotherapy to alleviate the pain.

Unfortunately, there's yet another challenge. Living in a country riddled with political unrest, Egypt's modern pentathletes have been faced with canceled travel, training camps and competitions due to safety concerns.

“Competition was canceled because of the money and… everything,” Medany said. “We didn't know if we could travel. We would go to the airport and it would be closed, but it was for our safety.”

When asked what a modern pentathlon medal could mean for her country, Medany simply said, “A lot I think, but I prefer not to speak of such matters until after the race.”

Rather, Medany is focused on training to perfection.

“Every time you enter a competition, there is more pressure than before,” Medany said. “One must improved oneself. I must have a better place than eight place.

And so a humbled, more experienced Medany heads to London with her head down, but with eyes wide open. Still incredibly young, but with learned savvy, Medany chooses to focus on what she can control, while distancing herself from nervous situations.

Going into her third Games, she takes homage from a quote her father says to her.

“My father says, 'If we are meant to do something, we will do it.' If I am meant to do something, I will do it.”

True enough, time will tell in just a few short weeks, what exactly Medany is meant to do.

# # #

Keywords · Modern Pentathlon · London 2012 · Pentathlon · Pentathlete · Olympics · Olympic Games · London · UIPM · IOC · Coubertin · Run · Shoot · Swim · Ride · Fence · Great Britain · Medany · Aya · Veteran · Egypt · Egyptian

Name: Matt Pound
Organization: Union Internationale De Pentathlon Moderne - UIPM
Phone: +377 9777 8555

Please refer all questions to the company listed above issuing the press release. SFC will not be able to assist you with any inquiries and disclaims any content in these press releases.