POSTED: Wednesday July 18th 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Egyptian pentathlete Amro El Geziry will be the African standard bearer at Greenwich Park, but if it hadn’t been for his brother, he might well have represented his country as a gymnast or a swimmer.
Encouraged by his father Abdelrahman ,Amro and brother Omar took to the apparatus as youngsters. Amro was good enough to win a bronze medal in national age group championship as a ten year old.
“I used to like the pommel horse, it was my favourite piece and it really helped me a lot with muscles and stretching. In gymnastics you have to have elasticity.” he said.
As a schoolboy, he had also reached national level in swimming , an event which now invariably boosts his pentathlon score.
“We started so early, because my father really loved to swim and he was encouraging us to train.”
Amro was still only fourteen when he watched older brother Emad go off to the 2000 Olympics as a Modern Pentathlete. Emad finished 19th in Sydney and at that moment, a dream was born for the two brothers left at home.
“Emad was really our mentor. We saw him get a really good result to go to the Olympics .He was the reason we chose to start doing modern pentathlon and we decided, let’s try to go to the Olympics with our brother, so that is how it started.”
Omar and Amro both joined the Al Shams Sporting Club in Cairo where pentathlon prodigy Aya Medany trained alongside them. She made astonishing progress towards a World championship silver medal in 2008 aged only nineteen.
“She is really one of the best athletes we have in Egypt in any individual sport. From the beginning it was clear she was going to be good.Although she is younger than me, she really inspired me and a lot of others in Egypt. I like her spirit and how she competes .She is a great team mate.” said Amro.
If there is such a thing as a Modern Pentathlon family then the El Gezirys fit the bill perfectly.Mum Tayseer Hamad and sister Alyaa keep track of the brothers’ progress by internet.
“My family are really into the sport. They know everything about it, they follow the rankings and everything.” said Amro.
“They are amazing. We have had a lot of competitions organised in Egypt where they have had the chance to watch us, otherwise, they always watch on line, following us everywhere.” said Amro.
His breakthrough year came in 2006 when he won the African open championship in Cairo.
“Since that time, people have started to know a little bit more about the sport , though they won’t necessarily know the names. In the sports community of course, they are aware that Modern Pentathlon is one of Egypt’s success stories.” He said.
Throughout his international career, Amro has had brother Omar as both training partner and competitive rival.
“It is nice to have a brother training with you, even though it does get a little crazy at times when you are competing together and challenging one another. For me it has been unique. If he had not been with me, I don’t think I would be where I am now. He was also fighting for the place but he understands the sport and has always supported me.”
At one stage all three El Geziry brothers were in contention for a spot at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Emad was forced to retire injured but at the 2007 African Championships, it was Amro who won gold, just five seconds ahead of his brother Omar to qualify for the Games.
“I think Emad was much happier for me, than when he won the place at the Games for himself and I think this time it is very much the same .”
Amro finished 32nd in Beijing but his first Olympic experience offered valuable lessons.
“It was very good for me even though it didn’t go so well overall. We arrived ten days before and there were a lot of distractions. You want to watch things, and you cannot do that because you have to train and the competition is on the last day. We will not go to London quite so early.”
A cloud burst made the riding and run even more testing in Beijing. One bright spot was an Olympic record for Modern Pentathlon swimming. He admits to a tinge of disappointment that in London he won’t continue his rivalry in the pool with Britain’s Jamie Cooke who has missed out on selection.
“I was wishing he would be there, because we have had good races. I was laughing with him once saying that I was going to beat him in his home. I really like swimming with him and am so sorry for him, but I am sure the other guys deserve it.”
Although Egyptians have only missed one Olympic Games (1996) in Modern Pentathlon since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles , Amro is the first Egyptian man to qualify by his world ranking.
“This time it was a real challenge .I wanted to do it the hard way. No one believed it would happen so this was a dream for me. You cannot imagine how happy I am to do this.”
The political turmoil in Egypt in 2011 did take its toll. A World Cup and the World Championships scheduled for Cairo were both cancelled. Amro himself missed the World Cup event at London’s Greenwich Park which doubled as the Olympic test event.
“It was so hard to train at that time because of the situation at home and I didn’t make it.” He said.
He bounced back in time for the World Championships in Moscow and sealed his qualification through the world pentathlon rankings.
Though he missed the London test event, Amro has happy memories from the 2009 World Championships at Crystal Palace.
“This was a really great memory for me. Not only did we win a bronze medal in the relay, but I did it with my brother.He is the best team mate ever and the best brother ever so I am glad to have him .” he said.
“I am getting ready for London. I hope the weather will be good as in Egypt but actually in Egypt it is sometimes a little bit too hot for Modern Pentathlon.I have also heard about the hills in Greenwich and I am working hard on running now.” he said.
His feet have scarcely touched the ground this year after a gruelling schedule which has taken him to the USA, Brazil, Hungary ,China, Russia, Italy and then back to the States.
“Sometimes we do find time to have some fun and go for short trips. I remember a former coach who used to make a trip to the seaside every couple of weeks and he used to say you have to. I learnt from this.
There is a lot of stress but I have had so much fun from the sport. I know I sacrificed some things, but if I could go back, I would do the same again.”
Name: Matt Pound
Organization: Union Internationale De Pentathlon Moderne - UIPM
Phone: +377 9777 8555