By Doug Williams | Oct. 03, 2018, 2:52 p.m. (ET)

Amro Elgeziry competes at the UIPM Pentathlon World Championships during Sept. 2018 in Mexico City. 

 

Nobody can say Amro Elgeziry is resistant to change. He’s always up for a new adventure or challenge.

“I’m just following my dream and doing my thing,” he says, laughing.

That dream led him to move to the United States from his native Egypt in 2014, when he married American pentathlete and Olympian Isabella Isaksen. In the years since, he competed for Egypt in pentathlon at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, joined the U.S. Army in 2017, became an American citizen and started competing for Team USA.

Elgeziry, 31, is a three-time Olympian for Egypt (he also went to the 2008 and 2012 Games) who has had an eventful first year as a member of the U.S. national pentathlon team.

There have been high highs and low lows.

After nearly a year away from competing and training after joining the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (and going through basic training), Elgeziry made his debut for Team USA in March at a UIPM Pentathlon World Cup event in Los Angeles. He was the only American to qualify for the final and finished ninth. Then, he and Isaksen teamed to win a silver medal in the mixed relay.

Shortly after, he was discovered to have a sports hernia. That shut him down for two months. 

In June, he rebounded by winning the senior national U.S. championship in San Antonio, Texas, scoring 1,473 points and holding off top-ranked junior Seamus Millett (1,429) and Youth Olympian Brendan Anderson (1,409), who was second the past two years.

Then came the world championships in Mexico City in September. Elgeziry was strong over two days, faring well in swimming and fencing and then coping with a troublesome horse in the equestrian jumping event of the final. The horse — who also had a rough outing for a previous rider — knocked down four rails. Still, Elgeziry went into the final event, the combined laser run, with a slim overall lead.

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In that event, athletes must shoot five targets before running 800 meters — and then repeat that shooting/running combination three more times. It’s a challenge because it’s hard for the athletes to control their breathing and take correct aim with their pistols after the hard runs. Usually, though, Elgeziry doesn’t have a problem. On this day, he did.

It took him just 10 seconds to hit his five targets in Round 1, then 15 and 13 seconds in Rounds 2 and 3. In Round 4, it took him 34 seconds. While he lost some time on his runs, his off-target final round allowed numerous athletes to pass him. He went from first to finishing 27th overall.

“It was really bad,” he said. “It was exceptionally bad. … It was a deal-breaker for me. It’s the hardest part of the sport. You run, it’s stressful, your heart rate is high, and then you freak out and something bad can happen. It was not good.”

Just a few weeks later, Elgeziry could at least laugh about it.

“It just fell apart,” he said.

Yet despite that result, he sees 2018 as an important transition year. He’s excited by the good days he’s had and believes he’s building on his years of experience in the sport. He’s not only been to three Olympic Games, but has won silver (individual, 2014) and gold (team, 2016) medals at world championships. Modern pentathlon, he believes, is a sport so technical — with fencing, equestrian and shooting — that athletes can continue to improve through their 30s.

“The more you do, the better you get,” he says.

So, he’s encouraged as he heads toward the Pan American Championships in Peru in November and then a busy 2019 that will include as many as four world cup events, the Pan American Games, world championships and fighting for a place on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team in Tokyo.

He knows anything can happen — including injuries — so he’s no lock for that 2020 team. But he’s encouraged. And, if he can make the 2020 team, why not the 2024 team in Paris?

In those Games, it’s possible the mixed relay could be a part of the modern pentathlon program for the first time, and he and Isaksen think about that and aspire to compete together, just as they did in Los Angeles in March.

Elgeziry and Isaksen — who met at modern pentathlon events — train together, travel together and have their lives entwined totally in the sport. To actually compete together and then win a silver medal was a career highlight.

“We always knew we could be a great team paired up,” he said. “So it was kind of a dream for us to compete together. We finally had the chance and it was very special to do it and then to win a medal, and to do it in the U.S. It was so great.”

Through all the changes of the past four years, Elgeziry is grateful. He fell in love with the sport as a boy, when his older brother, Emad, went to the Sydney Games in 2000 for Egypt. He’s had a chance to compete in three Olympic Games, team with his brothers (Emad and Omar) for the Egyptian national team, and now has a chance to prolong his career by becoming an American citizen. He said he used to dream about living in the U.S. when he was younger.

“It was kind of like, this is what I want to do, what I’m meant to do,” he said of where he is now. “It (the U.S.) feels like home, but it also feels a little strange after competing for so long for Egypt and having a lot of success. But this is right for me, this is what I wanted and I’m glad it’s happening.”

Doug Williams covered three Olympic Games for two Southern California newspapers and was the Olympic editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.