Amro Elgeziry competes in the individual men´s Modern Pentathlon Laser Run at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on July 28, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Pentathlete Amro Elgeziry qualified for his fourth straight Olympic Games back in July 2019, and even then it seemed like a long wait until Tokyo.
Now it will be two years between qualifying and competing, but given that Elgeziry never expected to go to one Olympics, let alone four, that’s OK.
“I thought if I made it one time I’ll be done,” said Elgeziry, 33. “I never even dreamt of that, honestly. Even now it doesn’t seem real sometimes. I think about the time and the fourth Olympics and I’m really lucky to be where I am, able to do what I love.”
For Elgeziry, this is another chapter in an Olympic journey that’s taken him from his native Egypt to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he’s now a sergeant in the U.S. Army and awaiting his Olympic debut competing for the red, white and blue.
His sport — which consists of fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and a combination running-shooting event — isn’t well known in the U.S., something that Elgeziry hopes will change one day.
It wasn’t popular in his native Cairo, either, back when he was growing up.
Although all three Elgeziry brothers have competed for Egypt in pentathlon at the Olympics, initially it was only his oldest brother, Emad, who was interested in the sport. A local coach was recruiting people for his new pentathlon team, and while Emad agreed to give it a try, Amro and Omar were reluctant.
“At the time we were doing well in swimming so we were like, ‘No, we’re good,’ but then we watched him get better and better and then make the Olympic team,” Elgeziry said. “It was very inspirational because we’d go with him to these local competitions and see him ride horses and shoot and fence and it was all really interesting stuff.”
Emad had only been involved in the sport for about four years before he made the 2000 Olympic team, Elgeziry said, so his inclusion was a surprise. The family didn’t get to travel with him to Sydney, but they watched everything on TV.
Elgeziry was just 13 years old.
“We’d heard of the Olympics but just knowing someone who would go to the Olympics, it’s like it’s not even real,” Elgeziry said. “I remember I was there at the qualification competition and I remember him winning it and I still didn’t realize what does that mean. I didn’t understand, I guess, how big the Olympics were. So when the Opening Ceremony started I remember watching the TV and I was so proud and excited and looking at the TV trying to find him. Not knowing what I know now, that he wasn’t a top contender, I remember watching him thinking he was going to win and having so much hope.”
Emad didn’t win, but his appearance sparked the Olympic dreams of both his younger brothers. Amro started to compete in pentathlon in 2001, worked his way with great success through the youth circuit and made his senior debut in 2004 at 18 years old. He ended up beating both his brothers out for a spot at the Olympic Games 2008 Beijing.
Elgeziry finished 32nd in his Olympic debut, then made his second Olympic appearance in London in 2012 and finished 33rd. Throughout his Olympic career in Egypt he was going to college and then med school and then working to support himself.
He started planning his move to the United States in 2012.
“It had always been a dream for me to come to the States,” he said. “It was a dream for me to be an American and have my own American dream, so once I finished college and got that out of the way I decided it was the right time. I just loved it and knew I wanted to live here.”
He completed the move and married fellow pentathlete Isabella Isaksen in 2014, and both competed in the Olympics in Rio in 2016, along with Omar, 35, who also represented Egypt.
Omar was 23rd and Amro was 25th. Despite it being his best finish at the Olympics, however, he left wondering if he had a future in the sport.
“It was my third Olympics and I was in really good shape prior to that,” he said. “I had the best four years of my life career-wise, I was crushing it the last three years and had won multiple world championship medals, world cup medals, and I was going into the Olympics ranked fourth in the world. I was a strong contender for a medal and had a really bad day and ended up having my worst finish of the last four years. It was very harsh. I felt like maybe it was time to move on.”
And he did, in a way.
Both Elgeziry and Isaksen joined the U.S. Army in 2017 and were accepted into the World Class Athlete Program, which allows them to train while serving their country. It was a way for Elgeziry to strive for one more Games, this time as a U.S. citizen.
Elgeziry hopes to be able to start competing again at the end of March and to have a few world cups under his belt before Tokyo so he can gauge where he’s at and what he needs to work on.
He would love nothing more than to become the first American to medal in pentathlon at the Olympics since Emily deRiel won silver in 2000 and the first U.S. man to do so since Bob Beck, who won bronze in 1960.
“Honestly, it’s my dream right now,” he said. “I hope I can do it. It’s been a long time for pentathlon and I think it would be a great way to give back to Team USA. It would be the best thing that I can do honestly, so we’ll see. It’s pretty exciting to think about.”