Osama Mellouli, a Tunisian legend who aspires to a new achievement in Tokyo
Tunisian swimmer Oussama Mellouli, the world and Olympic champion, qualified for the finals of the free water swimming competition at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, to be held next summer, after he achieved tenth place in the qualifying session hosted by the Portuguese city of Seutebal earlier this week. Mellouli completed the 10 kilometer race in a time of two hours, two minutes, 55 seconds and 60 parts, while Briton Hector Thomas Bardoy finished the race in first place with a time of two hours, two minutes and seven seconds and 60 parts. Oussama Mellouli’s qualification for the Olympics did not go unnoticed in the sporting circles in Tunisia. Rather, it constituted an important event, especially as the 37-year-old swimmer recorded his sixth successive attendance at the Summer Olympics, after the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. Mellouli confirmed that he will bet on a new Olympic crown, although his task will not be easy in light of the obstacles his career is facing and the absence of financial support to secure his training and preparatory participation. Mellouli, who is the only swimmer in the history of the Olympics to win gold in swimming and in open water, said: “Everyone knows the size of the sacrifices I have made. Success requires many challenges and I hope that the outstanding problems will be resolved before my participation in the Tokyo Olympics, after which I will announce my final retirement.” Oussama Mellouli is one of the most famous Tunisian athletes and the most crowned in international competitions for individual sports. During his twenty-year career in swimming, Mellouli is the only Tunisian and Arab athlete to win two gold medals in two different versions of the Olympic Games. Mellouli carved his name in golden letters in the records of the 2008 Beijing Games, specifically in the 1500m freestyle race, where he won the gold medal after he won the first place, cutting the race in a time of 14 minutes, 40 seconds and 84 percent, breaking the record of the legendary Australian World and Olympic champion Grant Hackett. Mellouli’s coronation at the time was an unprecedented achievement, as he became the first Arab and African swimmer to win an Olympic gold, which is the second gold for Tunisia in the history of the Olympics, 40 years after Olympic gold medalist Mohamed Qamoudi in the Mexico Games in 1968. Four years later, the Tunisian swimmer repeated his golden achievement at the 2012 London Olympics when he won the gold in the 10 km race in free water. Before that, he won the bronze medal in the 1500m freestyle race within the same Games (London 2012). In addition to these summer Olympic achievements, Osama Mellouli starred remarkably in the world swimming championships and crowned the world championship in Rome in 2009 in the specialty of 1500 meters freestyle and within the same competition crowned two gold medals in the 400 and 800 meters freestyle races, and also won the gold medal for the 5000 race meters in the free water at the World Swimming Championships Barcelona 2013. Mellouli had started his career in swimming since his childhood before joining the American club “Trojans” at the age of sixteen, and in that year he participated in the Olympic Games “Sydney 2000” and left the swimming competition after finishing 43rd in the 400-meter race / four swimmers. In the 2001 Mediterranean Games hosted by Tunisia, Mellouli won the silver medal, but he excelled in the Mediterranean Games “Almeria” and achieved a miraculous achievement when he won three gold medals, breaking two records in the 200 meters and 400 meters. Mellouli’s relationship with the Tunisian Swimming Federation is very tense due to the value of the financial grants allocated to him for training in preparation for the global events in which he participates. Tunisian Sports Minister Siham Al-Ayadi said that Mellouli was threatened not to participate in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics due to differences with the Swimming Federation. Following a session devoted to following up on the preparations of Tunisian athletes for the Olympic Games, Al-Ayadi said in an official statement that “the Ministry of Sports is studying possible legal solutions to resolve the dispute between the swimmer and Olympic champion Osama Mellouli with the Swimming Federation, especially since Mellouli recently qualified for the Olympic Games for the sixth time in its history. .” She said, “It is necessary to put things back in order and to overcome any lingering problem between the sports structures and their athletes, for the benefit of Tunisian sport and the national flag.” Tunisia will participate in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, scheduled between July 23 and August 8, with a delegation of more than 60 athletes in about 17 disciplines, including volleyball, which is the only team sport.