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Egyptians Test Mettle at Pan Arab Games
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Sherine Elzeiny and Mohamed Serour, Egypt's two Olympic qualifiers, will headline the competition at the 11th Pan Arab Games, which begin Thursday in Cairo.

Egypt, the all-time medal winner for the Pan Arab Games, looks to regain its dominance from Algeria, which topped the medal standings at the 2004 Pan Arab Games in Algiers.

The Dutch-born Elzeiny told IG she hopes to do her part for Egypt's cause. She said Algeria will also be Egypt's strongest rival in gymnastics.

"My goal for this competition is to hit my routines very nicely so that I can be stable, and to get as many medals as I can get!" said the 16-year-old Elzeiny.

Competition begins Thursday with the men's team competition. Serour, 21, said he will compete in Cairo despite an injury.

"I have now a small problem with my leg, but I hope it will be fine," he said.

Following the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, the FIG Executive Board extended 2008 invitations to Elzeiny and Serour to ensure Olympic representation for each continent. Elzeiny, 91st all-around, and Serour 69th all-around, were the top competitors for Africa in Stuttgart (pictured together at left).

Elzeiny is coached by the Russian-born Boris Orlov in Nijmegen, Netherlands. She first represented Egypt at the 2007 All-Africa Games in Algeria, where she won the all-around and floor exercise gold medals.

Elzeiny will be Egypt's first female gymnast in Olympic competition. Serour will be the first male since Raouf Abdelfaouf competed in Sydney in 2000.

Egypt sent full men's teams to the Olympics in 1948 and 1952, and again in 1960 as the United Arab Republic.

The first Pan Arab Games were held in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1953, with nine nations competing in 10 sports. The games were held every four years through 1965, when political instability began hindering regular organization. The games were held only twice during the next two decades: in 1976 in Syria and in 1985 in Morocco.

The games are still held intermittently, happening in 1992 in Syria, in 1997 in Lebanon, in 1999 in Jordan and in 2004 in Algeria.

The 2007 edition will be the largest yet. Twenty-two countries are competing in 33 sports, including both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

External Link: 11th Pan Arab Games

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