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  • Writer's pictureDr Zied Abbes

"Ahmed Al-Jaouadi: The Next Tunisian Swimming Legend?"

No one can deny the athletic prowess and international achievements of Olympic champions Oussama Mellouli and Mohamed Ayoub Hafnaoui. However, a new champion has emerged on the sports scene who will carry Tunisia’s flag alone in swimming at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics: Ahmed Al-Jaouadi. Who is this swimmer, and is he better than Mellouli and Hafnaoui? What sets him apart?

Swimmer Ahmed Al-Jaouadi, born in 2005, has been residing in France since the age of thirteen, where he completed his training and studies. His turning point came at the 2021 Arab Age Group Championships in Abu Dhabi, where he won 2 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals. He then won two gold medals at the 2023 French National Championships in the 400m freestyle and 800m freestyle, his primary events. Recently, he qualified for the Olympics at the French International Championships, winning 3 gold medals in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle races. These are the same races previously dominated by Olympic and world champion Ayoub Hafnaoui and before him, Mediterranean Shark Oussama Mellouli.

Let’s revisit the first Olympic appearances of these two swimmers: Oussama Mellouli’s first participation was at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in Australia, where, at just 16 years old, he competed in one event, the 400m individual medley, finishing 43rd. His second appearance was at 20 years old in Athens, Greece, in the same event, where he placed fifth. In 2008, at the age of 24 in Beijing, Mellouli won his first gold medal for himself and Tunisia in the 1500m freestyle and placed 5th in the 400m freestyle.

On the other hand, Ayoub Hafnaoui’s first participation was in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan, at just 18 years old. He surprised everyone, especially his fellow Tunisians, by winning his first Olympic gold medal in the 400m freestyle and becoming the second Tunisian swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal.

Comparing Ahmed Al-Jaouadi’s results to his peers, he will represent Tunisia in three events in his first Olympic participation. He is the first Tunisian swimmer to achieve this unique feat. Can he surprise us by winning a medal in one of these events, becoming the second Tunisian and Arab swimmer to win a medal in their first Olympic participation in swimming? This question remains to be answered in the coming days.

Looking at some statistics and being more realistic, Ahmed Al-Jaouadi s current world rankings in 2024 are as follows:

- 400m freestyle: 34th place

- 800m freestyle: 12th place

- 1500m freestyle: 12th place

Will these statistics remain on paper, or will Al-Jaouadi surpass them to reach the finals (top 8) in these events, giving him a significant chance to win a medal as Hafnaoui did when he was the last qualifier? Or will his participation focus on further developing his skills and gaining more experience, especially given the advancement in global swimming levels compared to previous years?

All Tunisians are eagerly awaiting the start of the swimming competitions on July 27th at the ARENA PARIS LA DEFENSE, marking Al-Jaouadi’s Olympic journey in the 400m freestyle at 11 AM French time (10 AM Tunisian time).

 We wish the best of luck to the champion Ahmed Al-Jaouadi in swimming and to the rest of the athletes participating in the Olympics. As the Tunisian saying goes, “Inshallah Zina” (God willing, it will be great).

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