Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1389, (12 - 18 April 2018)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1389, (12 - 18 April 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Playing for the stars and stripes

An Egyptian-turned-American claimed the mixed relay silver medal at the Pentathlon World Cup in Los Angeles, reports Inas Mazhar


Amr Al-Geziri

Amr Al-Geziri won a pentathlon silver medal in the sport’s World Cup in Los Angeles. However, the medal was not for Egypt this time. It was for the US, in Al-Geziri’s first participation in the sport as an American citizen.

It was a satisfying day for Al-Geziri and his wife Isabella Isaksen as the husband-and-wife team were competing at the mixed relay event for the US for the first time and made it on the podium with an impressive silver medal.

The couple had been engaged for almost two years before tying the knot last year, after which Al-Geziri announced his retirement of one year.

Al-Geziri had enjoyed a strong career in the colours of his native Egypt and now is able to compete alongside his spouse thanks to the popular mixed relay format. He and Isaksen were in contention throughout the day and came within 16secs of gold.

Al-Geziri and his wife

The gold medal had gone to the Italian mixed team while the Mexican duo claimed the bronze medal. There was no stopping the Azzurri relay machine as Italy became the team to beat in the mixed relay after securing back-to-back victories with their gold medal at the 2018 Pentathlon World Cup in Los Angeles this week. Alessandra Frezza and Riccardo de Luca repeated the success enjoyed by Gloria Tocchi and Gianluca Micozzi at the Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo as Italy held off a strong challenge from the US and Mexico to secure victory on a hot day in Pomona, Los Angeles County.

This was the first participation for the former Egyptian after a long and successful pentathlon career representing his native country which included a handful of international and world titles.

The three-time Olympian Al-Geziri has built a new life in his adopted country, enlisting in the military while furthering his pentathlon ambitions and having put his medical studies on hold. He will always have a place in his heart for Egypt but one of the benefits of his conversion is that he can now compete alongside his wife.

The 31-year-old Al-Geziri, known to have been the best in the pool, in the swimming event, was always likely to have a strong start to the day for the home favourites, the US. He duly obliged with a time of 1:59.32, creating daylight between themselves and nearest contenders Poland (Natalia Dominiak and Lukasz Gutkowski; 2:01.02) and Korea (Choung Minjiand Seo Changwan; 2:01.39).

Now, Ms Al-Geziri is also an Olympian, having made her debut in the 2016 Rio Olympics alongside elder sister Margaux. Isaksen and Al-Geziri are focused on the dual goal of Tokyo 2020 as teammates.

Amr Al-Geziri

“It’s such a wonderful experience to have Amr as my best friend, my spouse and now also my teammate on Team USA,” Isaksen said.

“We both try to support each other as much as possible on competition days and rest days, so it’s just the most amazing feeling.”

Al-Geziri added: “For me it’s always been a unique experience, training with my wife and watching her compete, and it makes our relationship stronger.”

So far his US debut at the Pentathlon World Cup Los Angeles has gone extremely well, with both husband and wife qualifying for the individual finals of their first major competition since Rio.

“Over the years I’ve been doing the sport, she has been doing the sport, but we have always been on different teams and I always knew that we could be a great team,” Al-Geziri said.

“We’re super-excited to compete in the mixed relay,” Isaksen added. “Amr is such an amazing athlete and it’s just going to be a lot of fun.”

Both Isaksen and Al-Geziri have enlisted in the US Army’s World Class Athlete Programme whose support will help them compete at the top level, with the 2018 Pentathlon World Championships in Mexico City and Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru, on the radar this year.

“The US Army World Class Athlete Programme is an amazing programme,” said Isaksen. “We really wouldn’t be able to compete in our sport if they hadn’t provided us with that support.”

“The programme is really helpful for people in our sport, where funding and sponsorship are quite hard to get, and we feel like the army is the backbone of our sport in the US and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them,” added Al-Geziri.

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