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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!
It all started when almost seventy-seven-year-old International Masters Team swimming champion Nagwa Ghorab retired from her teaching job, and decided to dive back into the Olympian pool at sixty.
On the morning that we meet her for the cover shoot, she walks in with her athletic wear, and casually opens a backpack full of countless medals, certificates and shields. Nagwa’s feisty and positive character is complimented with her resistance and charisma, leaving everyone stunned and inspired by the seventy-six-year-old champion’s many wonders.
Nagwa’s spark ignited at sixty. She believes retirement was the chance she was waiting for. “I was waiting to retire. The sky is the limit now that I have less responsibilities. So why stop competing? To me, sixty was not the age of retirement: it was the age of freedom and accomplishments,” Nagwa says.
Accomplishing impressive feats locally and internationally, Nagwa Ghorab competed in six world championships for seniors –and won eleven international medals. “My first world championship was in 2010, and I was sixty-eight years at the time.” Nagwa, who loves a challenge, also competed in France’s National Championship for Seniors, and won gold medals two times.
“I was the only foreigner who participated in the Nationwide 2016 U.S. Masters Swimming Championship, and I got three medals. I was very happy with the silver medal for the fifty-meter backstroke competition in specific,” Nagwa adds.
Challenges do arise even for champs like Nagwa, except she doesn’t let them get in her way. In South Korea’s world championship, it was a fierce competition. She was hoping she would get just one medal, but she got four medals. “This time not only did I smile when I was on the stage getting awarded the medals, I danced in celebration on the stage,” Nagwa adds.
Chatting with Nagwa about her many accomplishments, not only does she prove that age is really just a number, she always stresses on how she thinks it’s necessary for people –and the media in specific– to mention her age as part of her story, as this is something she takes pride in. “I got a standing ovation after I received the silver medal when I was in the French Championship in 2011. I wanted people to know that I am taking this seriously to represent Egypt properly. At my age –and with my training– I can compete and I can win,” Nagwa says.
“I got a standing ovation after I received the silver medal when I was in the French Championship in 2011. I wanted people to know that I am taking this seriously to represent Egypt properly. At my age –and with my training– I can compete and I can win,”
Nagwa is living proof that positivity, commitment, passion, resistance and strong faith in her capabilities can make wonders.
Being called “Nagwa the Rebel” when she competes in France, Nagwa adds, ”When I competed in Europe I wanted to change how some European countries view Egyptian women. I wanted to show them what Egyptian women my age could do,” Nagwa says.
Behind the scenes of this success, comes determination and strong will. Nagwa trains a lot for months to prepare for joining a championship. It’s important for her that she trains only in Egypt and by Egyptian trainers.
“I want to thank Dr. Ahmad El Kady, my trainer. He is behind everything I reached,” Nagwa adds.
On the journey to success, Nagwa inspires so many people who watch her on television, and believe she proves nothing is too late. ”When I was in Korea and I met a fellow Egyptian forty-year-old swimmer, he said he returned to swimming because of me when he saw me on TV with Mona El Shazly,” Nagwa says.
Nagwa is a mother of three and she must be a pride to them and to her grandkids, like she is to many Egyptians. “I believe I bring happiness not only to my grandkids. I love it when my neighbors and security guards at the Heliopolis Sporting Club congratulate me, and flatter me with their comments.”
Nagwa leaves a strong influence even on everyday women she meets on the street, “I was once at the bank and a woman approached me to say thank you. She explained that she was sick, and the period of illness was long because she has an illusion of illness –and gave up on life. “Once I saw you on TV, I changed my mind about aging,” Nagwa says.
Nagwa’s heartwarming personality and genuine belief in God’s plan takes over her character. She mentions how her daughter once wondered how will she compete at this age, and asked her what happens if she gets sick when competing abroad alone. “I told her that anything can happen according to God’s plan, and nothing can stop fate,” Nagwa adds.
Being a role model to everyone, but especially to women over fifty –who just got their inspiration dose for today– Nagwa Ghorab sends a message to all women: “Don’t let negative comments about what you should and shouldn’t do after fifty get to you. Stay strong and pursue your dreams!”
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