Have you ever been hesitant to ask someone about their age? It might just be the elephant in the room. Well, maybe it won’t be when we you are talking to confident, triumph-oriented female athletes who found new freedom in their older age, and are proud of the number 50+, 60+ and 70+ year young.
With their swimming suits, cycling gears, and pointed ballet shoes, we met with three remarkable women who range from forty-nine to seventy-six years. The three wonder women pursued sports at a later stage in their lives, proving that when persistence and strong will come together magic happens.
These women are living proof that age doesn’t stop one from pursuing their dreams. On the contrary, they actually discovered –or reignited– their passion for swimming, ballet and triathlon much later in life than one would expect. Yes, touch wood!
Amany is the first Egyptian woman above fifty to compete in –and finish– the Ironman Triathlon Race in Barcelona, Spain on October 2nd, 2016. “The first time for me to practice triathlon was when I was forty-seven years old,” Amany says.rom a 180.25 km bicycle ride, to a 242.20 km marathon run and a 3.86 km swim without a break, Amany Khalil, fifty-three, triathlon champ, races against all expectations of what a woman in her fifties, who comes from a banking background, can achieve.
Mastering swimming, cycling, and running, Amany the multi-tasker began her journey with running. When Amany lived in the U.S. she was surprised to see people running and jogging in the street, unlike here.
Amany saw that the runners were fit and happy, and she admired that. “I gave it a try and went on a one-hour run in the morning, while the kids are asleep,” Amany says.
The group of youth that Amany trained with believed in her and encouraged her. “They could have said that a mum was coming to train with them, but they saw how serious I was about competing and my passion,” Amany says.
Amany first enrolled in Sahl Hashesh triathlons , then the half iron man race in Barcelona. “I didn’t win the half ironman race, by the way, in the beginning. Then I started training with a professional trainer. I managed to win, and then after made the full iron man race,” Amany says.
Standing by her side till the finishing line is Amany’s family. Amany is the mother of two boys, and she believes her family is one of the strong reasons behind her success. “During my first marathon, my children were about three and one and a half years old. At 6 am, my husband, my kids and my parents-in-law came in the morning to drop me off to the marathon; they really got my back,” Amany says.
On the pathway to success, Amany believes her trainer was the biggest supporter. “She is the first Egyptian woman to do the Iron Man. When I got introduced, I told her how much it affected me that I didn’t win the first try of the half iron man race. She enriched me with her experience. She wanted to see me achieving what she has already achieved,” adds Amany.
Commenting on the culture of running or playing sports on the street in Egypt versus the U.S., Amany remembers how people told her that we were not accustomed to seeing people running in the street, especially women. “I got to run in the streets. Yes, there are verbal harassment comments sometimes, and dogs run after me, but I did it.”
Amany doesn’t get affected by the negative comments she sometimes gets such as “Don’t you feel old doing this?” and “What are you running after?”. “During my iron man training, sometimes I had to train along in the street. I got a lot of verbal harassments from bus drivers when I am on the bike, asking me if I were a man or a woman. Thank God, when the triathlons got popular, people started riding bikes and women are also doing it,” Amany adds.
Amany the multi-tasker continues to inspire, and comments about aging for women. “Everyone who knows my age gets shocked. No plastic surgery or pills. The most important thing to age gracefully is sports. Sports bring happiness.”
Sending a heartfelt message to women everywhere, Amany says, “Nobody should be bound by age. We have inspiring examples of female athletes from different age groups, like Farida Osman, Nagwa Ghorab and many others.”
“Nobody should be bound by age.”
“They are women, they are competing, they are challenging themselves, they have jobs and families, but they look at life from a different perspective. After marriage and after getting older, they did what they thought was impossible,” Amany concludes.