SPORTS WOMAN OF THE WEEK /FENCING– ALGERIA Anissa Khelfaoui : The ambitions of a young talent
Importance does not wait for years. By qualifying for the second consecutive Olympics, 20-year old Algerian Anissa Khelfaoui, has just given reason to this old adage. After Beijing 2008, the youngster grabbed with panache her ticket for London 2012.
For Algerian fencing, which has been suspended for three years from all competitions by the international Federation, it is a terrific revenge and a good compensation. The qualification for the Olympic Games by the native from Dely Brahim in the outskirts of Alger, is not a handwork of mistake. Anissa has a rapid progress, notably since since she is preparing in Montreal where her parents have been living there for some years now. And then the Algerian champion has reason to be on top, given that she is trained by her mother, a former Muscovite army mistress of Ukranian origin, Tatyana Nassorenko. Champions of Quebec in fleuret and sword, Khelfaoui won in 2007 the Canadian summer games. A member of her school team called the Mousquetiers, the Algerian had the possibility of wearing Canadian colours, but she preferred to defend the colours of her paternal country. With Algeria, she burst to the scene at the age of 14 at all the Maghrebian, Arab and African championships. The progression continues and even increased when she eliminated from the pre-Olympic tournament in Spring 2008, Tunisia’s Sarra Besbès ranked tenth in the world. In Beijing, she became the first ever Algerian in history to take part in this discipline at the Olympic Games. No chance for her in the Chinese capital, she fell against one of the competition’s favourites in the first round, America’s Hanna Thompson, against whom there is an 8-year gap.
That is she had eight years experience lesser. Despite her elimination, the Algerian kept the faith. Passionate of classical dance, rhythmic gymnastic and hip hop, she did not relent her efforts.
Her work paid off and enabled her to consolidate her know-how by participating in two world Championships in 2010 and in 2011. But it is the Olympic star that guided and motivated her most. To gain her place to the Olympics, she consented, with the blessings of her family , several sacrifices: “ I will struggle to surpass myself in order to confirm myself during the African Championships”, she said three days before going to Casablanca: “ There would be high adversity with the presence of my greatest rival, notably the Tunisian. I temporarily dropped my University studies in Montreal in order to better prepare this competition.”
The sacrifices of this Multilanguage speaker – she speaks Arab, English and Russian- were not in vane. However, to her, the qualification is not an end to a means. In three months, the young Algerian will be hoping to do better than in Beijing. In clearer terms, be amongst the Top 16. And for that to happen, she needs to go through at least two rounds – given that the draws should not be too harsh on her.
Born on the 29 August 1991 in Algiers, Algeria
Speciality : sabre
Honours : African Champion : 2011, 2012 Arab Championships : 2007:
2ème 2011 :
2008 : 1st Olympic Games,38th
World Championships: Fleuret : 2010: 78th; 2011: