By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Ahmed Gebrel, the 25-year-old champion swimmer, will represent Palestine in the Rio 2016 Olympics; the only Palestinian to participate in two Olympic games.
Raised in Cairo, Gebrel was born to an Egyptian mother and Palestinian father. He learned to swim in the famous al-Ahli sports club of the Egyptian capital.
Gebrel represented Palestine at the 2012 Summer Olympics, competing in the Men’s 400 metre freestyle, and finishing in 27th place in the heats. In his personal heat, he managed to break his personal best by 9.89 seconds.
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In hopes of improving his chances, and with no competition-sized pool available for training in Palestine, Gebrel spent three months training at the Centre d’Alt Rendiment in Barcelona.
Reflecting on Palestine’s participation in the 2012 Olympics, Gebrel said, “We are a small number yes, but hopefully after the Olympics we will have more people involved in sports.”
Gebrel will participate in the 200 and 400 meter freestyle events in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
He believes that despite the fierce competition in Rio, competing against the world’s top athletes is a feat in and of itself. He also said that raising the Palestinian flag in this global sporting event delivers a strong message that reminds the world of the persistence of the Palestinian people who love life.
In his first heat so far in Rio, Gebrel was ranked 47th, finishing in a time of 1:59.71.
Gebrel holds most of the Palestinian swimming records. He currently lives and trains in Barcelona, Spain.