"We have proven that we are already one of the best teams in the world"
Full of confidence following their bronze medal performance at Rio 2016, Egypt will kick off their quest for the men’s title against Poland at the 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands from 15-22 July.
Team’s leader and four-time Paralympian Hesham Elshwikh is convinced that Egypt is ready for a big upset. “We are going to the Netherlands to win a medal,” he said.
In Pool D, the African champions will also face defending champions Bosnia and Herzegovina, another top contender for this year’s throne. The team lead by Mirzet Duran sealed the title at Elblag 2014 and aims to repeat that success in the Netherlands. Iraq complete the Pool.
“I know that it won’t be easy to get the gold and the competition is going to be hard but everything is possible,” added Elshwikh.
The Egyptian player’s confidence does not come from nowhere. The team enjoyed major successes in the past years including two African Championships titles in 2015 and 2017, noticeable top-finishes at recent World Championships and the bronze medal at Rio 2016 to top the cherry.
“The medal at Rio 2016 was very difficult. We played against Brazil, the host of the Games, in their home ground and in front of their crowd. That’s what made this win so special,” he said.
“We have proven that we are already one of the best teams in the world. Right now we are ranked as number three and we’ve been competing for medals in the last 20 years.”
Apart from the team’s success, Elshwikh has received plenty of recognition for his outstanding individual performances. The multi-skilled captain ended as the fifth top-scorer at Rio 2016 with 48 spikes, 11 blocks and six serves.
But it is not only his talent that pushes Egypt towards new heights. Elshwikh also has a big influence on his team and knows how to calm down his teammates in the most decisive moments.
Moreover, he has great vision as he is always thinking one step ahead. “We are going to the Netherlands to play for the title now but ultimately we want to win a medal at Tokyo 2020. I think we are capable of doing so,” he said.
More information about the 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championships is available on the event’s webpage.