In October 2016, Sarah Assem Aly received a silver medal at the Women’s Karate Kata Championship, which was held in Austria. She was not only the first Egyptian to make this accomplishment, but was also the first champion from Africa and the Middle East.
Aly is a 29-year-old Egyptian Karate Kata athlete. As a young girl, her mother liked the idea of a girl being able to defend herself and pushed her to start karate lessons at the age of 3.
Karate Kata is a set sequence of karate moves organized into pre-arranged fights against imaginary opponents. Here, the referees pick the winner according to a set criteria that includes speed, style, power, presentation and level of difficulty.
However, Aly was disappointed by the response—or lack of response—she received from the Ministry of Youth and Sports following her one-of-a-kind achievement.
Upon her arrival in Egypt, she was surprised to see that no representatives from the ministry were waiting for the team at the airport. “I was expecting my country to honor me. This is simply my right,” said Aly.
Two months later, Aly tried to contact the minister through a Facebook post, but he replied saying that “the federation may see that some achievements do not deserve to be honored”.
“Until now, I did not receive even a phone call from the minister,” Aly told BECAUSE.
According to Aly, this is the first time she has experienced such a response from the ministry, as it had previously been supportive. “The minister is an active man, who appreciates achievements. I don’t know what happened,” she said.
After learning about her numerous achievements, the Future Energy Corporation (FEC) started sponsoring Aly, providing her with the best training abroad that would raise her competitive advantage ahead of the world finals.
Aly has been a champion in Karate Kata for several years. She won first place in the Arab and African Championship for 10 years, and won the National Karate Championship for the past fourteen years. In addition, she won the bronze medal in the World Championship for Cadets, and the World Championship for Juniors.
In 2013, she won the silver medal in the Karate Premier League.
Aly confirmed that she will continue asking for her right to be supported by the Egyptian government as a female champion in sports. “I want to be honored by the president, because what is happening to me now is a huge disappointment for the coming generations,” concluded Aly.
Although she was saddened by her experience, she plans on preparing herself for the next Olympics games.
Photo credit: Sarah Assem Aly's Facebook page