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    Algerian athletes shine at IBSA World Championship and Games in São Paulo

    São Paulo, July 31, 2007 – Delegations of athletes from Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Tunisia are in São Paulo to participate in the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Championship and Games, which begin today (31) and end on August 6th. The competition, which is the largest in the world, is exclusively for visually impaired athletes. There are over 1,600 participants from 63 countries. The competition is worth classification for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

    The IBSA World Championship and Games, which have reached their third edition, include seven modalities: athletics, B1 football (for blind players) and B2/B3 football (for visually impaired players), swimming, judo, goalball (the only game developed especially for visually impaired people) and powerlifting. The championship is organized by the Brazilian Blind Sports Confederation (CBDC) and will take place in the cities of São Paulo and São Caetano do Sul.

    From the Arab countries, athletes are coming from Algeria, the country with the largest delegation – 25 athletes, 11 for athletics, eight for judo, and six for goalball. Then come Iraq and Lebanon, with six athletes for goalball. Tunisia has four athletes, who are going to participate in athletics.

    The Brazilian delegation, the largest of all, includes 102 athletes and is going to compete in all modalities. In the last world games, in Quebec, Canada, in 2003, Brazil won a total of 13 medals, being two gold, four silver and seven bronze. The three first places in the medal ranking went to Spain, with 27 gold medals, Canada, with 21 and Russia, with 16.

    The delegations started arriving in Brazil on June 28th and were training up to yesterday. The opening ceremony, which took place on Sunday at the Anhembi Convention Palace, included the presence of São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab, of the president of the championship's Organizing Committee, David Farias Costa, and of the president of the IBSA, Michael Barredo.

    Differences

    The competitions of some modalities of the IBSA World Games have some differences, as is the case with athletics, for example, which does not include pole vault, hammer throw or hurdle races. The competitions are also divided into deficiency levels and in some categories the athletes run with a "guide", joined by a rope tied to their hands.

    In the case of goalball, which is like handball, players are guided by bells in the ball. Two teams of three players compete. In judo, the only difference is that the blind athletes are not punished when they leave the fighting area and the fight is interrupted when the athletes break contact.

    In swimming, the athletes compete in four styles: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly, always divided by level of deficiency. The difference is that an assistant is always beside the pool, with a stick he taps on the head or back of the athlete warning him that it is time to turn or that he is coming to the finish.

    According to information on the official site of the Games, the objective is to promote blind sports and promote the integration of visually impaired athletes worldwide. The competition was created by the IBSA. The first edition of the games took place in Spain, in 1998, and the second in Canada, in 2003. All the competitions are open to the public in general and tickets are free.

    In the city of São Paulo the athletics competitions will take place at the Ibirapuera Complex, judo at Bandeirante University, at the Maria Cândida campus, and powerlifting will take place at the Holiday Inn Anhembi Hotel. In São Caetano do Sul, other modalities will take place, like swimming, at the Lauro Gomes de Almeida Sports Center, goalball, at the São Caetano do Sul Second Secondary School (SEMEF) and at the Leandro Klein Primary School, and football at the Profª. Joana Mota State School.


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    São Paulo, August 3, 2007 -- At 16 years of age, the Algerian Si Smail Yahia, who is currently 21 years old, had a problem in his retina and became blind. What seemed like the end was just the beginning. In 2004, Yahia started practicing athletics and in the following year won second place in the 4x100 metre relay at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Youth and Student World Games in Colorado Springs, United States. Yahia is in Brazil competing in the IBSA World Championship and Games, together with other colleagues who also managed to overcome their difficulties and are now great competitors.

    "I recently started practicing athletics. I still have a long career ahead," said Yahia to ANBA. He is competing for a medal in Brazil. "My objective in this championship is to win the gold medal and I believe that I will, as I am very confident," he added. According to Yahia's guide, Taieb Safiane, who accompanies him during the races, the athlete's specialty is 800 metres and 1,500 metres.

    The championships for visually impaired people are divided into three categories: B1, for the completely blind, as is the case with Yahia, B2, for those with up to 5% sight and who can only see shadows, and B3, for those who see up to 10% and can identify people.

    According to Yahia, his life is normal. "I take public transportation alone, and go out with my friends and girlfriend," he said. Next year he is going to the United States on holiday. "I am going alone. I am going to spend a month." According to him, during the whole period in which he needed help to adapt to his new reality, his parents and friends were always beside him.

    Another Algerian athlete in the B1 category who speaks proudly about his victories is Omar Bon Chiheb, aged 41. "I started practicing at the age of 20, therefore I have already been practicing the sport for over 20 years," he said. Over the years, Chiheb, who is practicing in the 5,000 and 1,500 metre races in São Paulo, has won two silver and five gold medals in the Blind Sports World Championships in Spain, Canada and the Netherlands, and in the Athens Paralympic Games, in 2004. "I am now hoping to win a gold in Brazil," he said.

    The Algerians are standing out in Brazil. Athlete Khoumeime Bin Bouzid, aged 26, in the B2, has already won a bronze in the 5,000 metres race. "This was the first time that I participated in an international competition," he said, adding that he has been training since the age of 15 and is now getting ready for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

    Another Algerian B2 athlete who has been exceeding his limits from the age of eight is Mounia Kerkar, aged 29. A judo fighter, Mounia can only see up close and with lenses. In her childhood, she fought without problems, but then she started having visual problems. "I could not see the scoreboard, so I started wearing contact lenses," she said. Mounia is one of the seven Algerian judokas who are participating in the games in São Paulo. In Algeria, she teaches judo to visually impaired children.

    Another B2 visually impaired athlete who teaches is the Tunisian Ahmed Belhaj Ali, aged 31. He started practicing athletics at the age of 20 and was world champion in Spain, France and Canada. In the Sydney Paralympic Games, he was in fourth place. All the races he competed in were 100 metre sprints. "I work as a trainer at a school for the visually impaired in Tunisia and I love my work," stated Belhaj, who was born blind.

    The IBSA World Championship and Games in São Paulo started on July 31 and end on Monday (6th). Apart from Algeria and Tunisia, another 60 countries are participating, among them Iraq, in Goalball, a game developed especially for the visually impaired.


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    Samedi 4 Aout 2007 -- Présente avec des athlètes de trois disciplines que sont l’athlétisme, le judo et le goal-ball, l’Algérie commence déjà à s’illustrer lors des Jeux mondiaux de Sao Paulo qui se déroulent depuis le 30 juillet dernier et ce jusqu’au 8 de ce mois.

    Au soir de la deuxième journée, deux médailles en vermeil sont tombées dans l’escarcelle de l’Algérie. Elles sont l’œuvre de Hakim Yahiaoui (T13) au poids avec un lancer de 12.95 m au premier essai devant Rodrigo de Souza (11.28 m) du Brésil et Chih- Chung, Chiang 10.34 m de Taipei. De son côté, Nacereddine Kerfas (T12), s'est adjugé aussi le titre mondial du 5000 m, parcourant la distance en 15:6.60, devant le Kenyan Henry Kiprono Kirwa (15:7.74) qui avait chipé l'or des derniers Jeux africains à Kerfas. La médaille de bronze est revenue à l'autre Algérien Benbouzid Khoumaïni (15:8.13).

    Les judokas sont aussi efficaces. En effet, Sid-Ali Lamri (-66 kg) et Mouloud Noura (-60 kg) ont remporté le bronze dans leurs catégories respectives. L'athlète Karkar Mounia (-57 kg), s'est contentée quand à elle de la 7e place, après avoir perdu face à Brussig Hamona (Allemagne) et à l'Espagnole Monica Merenciano, alors qu'en athlétisme, Omar Benchihab (B1) a pris la 6e place au 5000m…

    Le président de la FAH, M. Noureddine Nemer Korichi, estime que c’est un bon début pour ses athlètes. Ces derniers avaient des craintes lors de leurs classifications mais elles se sont déroulées correctement. Pour sa part, l'équipe nationale de goal ball, médaillée d'or des derniers Jeux africains d'Alger, évolue dans le groupe (5). Au premier match face à l'Italie, les coéquipiers de Mohamed Mokrane avait perdu (5-3), avant de prendre leur revanche sur la Turquie (12-5). L'équipe algérienne sera opposée par la suite au Porto Rico, à l'Argentine, puis à l'Espagne, la grande favorite du groupe.

    Rappelons qu’à ces jeux sont présents 1600 athlètes issus de 63 nations dans une compétition comprenant cinq disciplines.


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    August 5, 2007 -- Algerian athletes have won four of the eight gold medals awarded so far in the athletics event at the 3rd IBSA Championships and Games for blind and visually impaired sportsmen, IBSA reports on its website. Hakim Yahiaoui won the men’s shot put event, Nacereddine Kerfas finished first in the 5,000m final while Khoumaini Benbouzid and Hani Meguelati Hani won the 10,000m and 800m events. More than 1,600 athletes from 63 countries are taking part in the five disciplines contested in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


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    Algiers, August 5, 2007 (APS) - Algerian disabled athletes continue to distinguish themselves at the 3rd Sao Paulo World Games for partially sighted athletes in Brazil, by bringing Algeria’s haul to 13 medals overall among which 5 gold and one silver, after the 4th day of the events contested on Saturday late in the afternoon. After a good start in these Games, which are to continue till 6 August, with 2 golds thanks to the thrower Hakim Yahiaoui and the runner Nacereddine Kerfas in 5000m, and 3 bronze claimed by the runner Benbouzid Khoumaini in 5000m and the judokas Mouloud Noura and Sid Ali Lamri, the Algerian team expanded its harvest to include 3 new golds, snatched by the runners Khoumaini Benbouzid in the 10,000m (B2), Hani Meghelati in the 800m B3 and the judoka Ahmed Kebaili in the -100kg.

    In the 10.000m, the runner Benbouzid won at the finishing line clocking a time of 33:8.20 ahead of Kenya’s Henry Kirwa (33:8.28) and Algeria’s Nacereddine Kerfas (33:8.31). Meghelati distinguished himself by winning the 800m race clocking 1:53.30, ahead of Venezuela’s Luiz Sanchez (1:54.47) and Algeria’s Sakhri Zineddine (1:57.06). The 3rd gold was claimed by the judoka Kebaili, competing for the first time at an international level, who eliminated in turn Iran’s Nadri Hamzeh, Brazil’s Silva Antonio, Britain’s Rose Ian and in the final Cuba’s Juan Cortada.


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    Lundi 6 Aout 2007 -- Les athlètes du handisport algérien continuent à s'illustrer aux 3es Jeux mondiaux des mal voyants de Sao Paulo (Brésil), en portant leur moisson à treize médailles dont cinq en or et une en argent, après les épreuves de la 4e journée. Outre ces médailles, la sélection algérienne a engrangé dans son escarcelle une médaille d'argent grâce au lanceur Samir Belhouchet au javelot (B3), avec un jet de 54.09 m, réalisé au 3e essai. Pour sa part, l'équipe nationale de goal ball, s'est qualifiée avec brio aux 8es de finales.


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