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Track and field's Ahmed Hassan throws at ASU after living through Egypt's revolution

Ahmed Hassan VIII
Ahmed Hassan, an ASU shot put athlete from Cairo, is pictured at Sun Angel Stadium on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

It took 7,430 miles for senior Ahmed Hassan to travel from his hometown of Cairo, Egypt, to attend ASU and compete on the ASU Track and Field team.

Hassan has been a track competitor since he was 15 years old as a junior in high school. He and his brother, Colorado State sophomore Mostafa Hassan, both competed for a club in Egypt called the Gezira Sporting Club as throwers. Hassan said he felt right at home in the sport as soon as he started competing.

“After one year, I qualified for the world championship in France,” Hassan said. “So I thought that’ll be a good sport for me because I was progressing really fast.”

The two were some of the few athletes that competed in track and field in Egypt and were the only throwers on their team. While competing in Egypt, most of his peers didn't match him in physical gifts. Though, for Hassan, his ability was based off raw power, not technique. In the U.S., Hassan has said he needs to improve his technique in order to keep his career moving forward.

Even with unconventional form, Hassan has done well. In the three meets he has competed in this season, Hassan has been in the top five every meet and in the top three twice. After a year and a half on the team, Hassan has received some high praise from head coach Greg Kraft.

“He’s an absolute delight to have on the team,” Kraft said. “He’s a student of the event, even though he’s coming from Egypt and not been on a collegiate program, he’s really team-oriented. He’s really supportive of the other men and women within his discipline, he’s really been a big bonus for us there that goes beyond his competitive marks.”

However, it hasn’t been an easy road for Hassan, who lived in Egypt during the anti-government protests and revolution of 2011 to 2014.

“No one was allowed to go into the streets 'cause it was getting chaotic,” Hassan said. “Everything was a little sketchy; going to practice wasn’t that easy. You would face a lot of road blockers and thieves and stuff like that, so that messed up my training a little bit.”

Hassan said the election of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which Hassan and his family supported, helped improve Egypt's political climate.

Hassan eventually decided to go to ASU. After that decision, he sent an email to throwing coach David Dumble, asking if he could join the team. When Dumble learned of Hassan's accomplishments in Egypt, he said he was excited to get him on the team, and even more excited when he saw Hassan throwing for the first time.

“He is a big strong guy with a lot of power,” Dumble said. “Very explosive, also could see that he didn’t have a lot of technical experience so we’re working on that. He’s starting to understand more about his throw but he’s a great physical specimen, very strong, very big, very explosive.”

Dumble knows that with time and hard work, Hassan could easily continue improving his skills as a thrower, and said he has high hopes for the 21-year-old.

“Sky is the limit,” he said. “He’s hitting some numbers that indicate that he could be throwing 20 meters; like 65, 66 feet. It’s just a matter of time, so just 'cause he has the strength doesn’t mean it’ll convert to distance immediately.”

While Egyptian and U.S. cultures are different, Hassan said he felt comfortable in the United States.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Hassan said. “Everything is pretty similar, but everything is nicer. I have better facilities, better weight room, better coach, better teammates — more teammates actually — I didn’t have any teammates back home, it was only me and my brother.”

Coach Dumble only has one more year to work with the senior. Until then, he said he'll continue to enjoy working with the athlete that came so far to compete in the U.S.

Related Links:

ASU track and field athletes break 23 total personal records

ASU track and field only takes 19 to Mountain T Invitational


Reach the reporter at osoussi@asu.edu or follow @omarksoussi on Twitter.

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