|From left, World Taekwondo President Choue Chung-won, Ambassador of Egypt in Korea Hazem Mostafa Ibrahim Fahmy and Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hwang Hee post during a ceremony where Fahmy received the ministry's Cheongryong Medal on behalf of the family members of the late WT Vice-President Gen. Ahmed Fouly on April 30. Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
By Ko Dong-hwan
|Former World Taekwondo Vice-President Gen. Ahmed Fouly / Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism gave the Cheongryong Medal, one of the most prestigious honors for sports figures, to Ambassador of Egypt to Seoul Hazem Mostafa Ibrahim Fahm on April 30 on behalf of the Egyptian's family members who could not come to Korea due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WT, the sport's global governing body based in Seoul, had recommended Fouly to the ministry for his role in promoting the martial art ― especially to many young children ― on the continent of Africa.
"I am very pleased to have delivered the honor to the late vice president," Minister Hwang said. "I hope taekwondo grows further to solidify its role that reflects equity and diversity that are symbolic spirits of the International Olympic Committee."
Under Fouly's leadership as president of the Egyptian Taekwondo Federation from 2000 to 2009 and 2012 to 2014, and president of the African Taekwondo Union between 2004 and 2020, taekwondo's popularity grew to have 52 member states there ― the most among WT's five continental federations that altogether have 210.
Athletes from four African countries won five medals at the Rio Summer Olympic Games in 2016, and the region in 2018 sent athletes to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, as part of representatives of WT for its peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.
WT President Choue Chung-won recalled Gen. Fouly as "a great man of taekwondo" and thanked him for dedicating his life to "elevating our beloved martial art and sport to what we are today."
"In his capacity as president of Taekwondo Africa, Gen. Fouly oversaw the meteoric rise of taekwondo in his region. Five medals from Africa under his leadership at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games truly demonstrated the universality of taekwondo. Taekwondo is now one of the most popular sports in Africa, and continues to produce champions on and off the mat … Without him, the current taekwondo would not exist," Choue said.
Gen. Fouly died while hospitalized in Egypt at the age of 71.
Previous non-Korean recipients of the medal include the Netherlands' Guus Hiddink, who led Korea's national football team to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, and Germany's Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee.