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Editor’s Letter: Paying Homage to Two Olympic Gold Medalists from the Region

Manuel Arnaut photographed by Ziga Mihelcic

This year’s Tokyo Olympics were especially exciting, not only because of the outstanding performances of the athletes, but for all the discussions around other topics that have been taboo for so many years, from respect for the bodies of female athletes, who questioned the mandatory wearing of revealing clothes, to conversations around mental health. As many of the participants pointed out on social media and in the press, although they are contending in the world’s most exciting competition before a global audience, it doesn’t mean that athletes should be seen as soulless robots or puppets, existing to entertain us. As a former elite athlete myself, I wish I had more emotional support back in the days when I competed in the world and European championships of Sports Acrobatics.

Ahmed Hafnaoui photographed in Tunisia by Bachire Tayachi

Professional sports not only weigh on the body, they can also be heavy on your mind and the damage to your spirit is not as easy to spot as a swollen, twisted ankle. Celebrating the Olympic glory of our local heroes, this month’s edition pays homage to two athletes who captured the world’s attention during the summer’s Tokyo events. Nineteen-year-old Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui was not the favorite to win the gold medal, but he took top place on the podium in the 400m freestyle category. He has become a national hero, and we photographed him back home, surrounded by the young generation he now inspires.

Mutaz Essa Barshim shot by Matthieu Delbreuve

Another story that made international headlines was that of Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who shared his gold medal with Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, after both tied for first place. This made Olympic history, and naturally, we had to celebrate the noble gesture with this month’s cover. From sports to fashion, we are also highlighting a new movement spotted during this year’s couture collections, which are usually only focused on designs for women. More and more, from Dolce & Gabbana to Balenciaga, brands are offering one-of-a-kind couture creations for men – and I’m not talking about the tailored suits from Savile Row, which will always be beloved classics. As we conclude with the story on p96, it’s time more men invest in beautifully crafted and unique clothing that invites us to celebrate our self-expression through fashion… And hopefully have a blast while doing it.

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Read Next: Celebrating the Golden Rise of Arab Athletes with Vogue Man Arabia’s Fall/Winter 2021 Issue

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Vogue Man Arabia

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