Saturday May 30, 2020
By: Alexandra Kinias
Watching the rowing boats gliding on the river as she drove back and forth around Zamalek neighborhood, intrigued Asmaa Al Zohairy. The AUC alumnus with Mass Communication degree had already made a career shift in 2012, when she put her degree aside to become a fitness instructor. As she built her strength and stamina, she finished two marathons and several triathlons. Within three years after she started her athletic career, she became Egypt’s Nike brand ambassador and trainer.
Carrying the passion of sports in her heart, Asmaa embarked on her new athletic challenge in 2015. She start rowing at 27, an age she describes as, “ relatively old in the stereotypical world of sports.” she tells Cairo Gyms.
With her hard work, passion and aspiration to reach new horizons, she soon joined the rowing national team. In four years since she started, not only had she won many national tournaments, but she also set Egypt’s record in indoor rowing. In addition, Asmaa, known as Shika among her rowing teammates, represented Egypt at The Mediterranean Games and The World Rowing Championship. Moreover, she was selected to race at the Tokyo Olympics qualifications from Africa. She came in second place.
Rowing has challenged Asmaa from the beginning, “It is a sport that teaches perseverance and connects you with nature on its good and bad days,” she says.
Believing in giving back to the community, Asmaa founded Sculln’Blades, The Rowing School in 2018, to pass on the passion of the sport she thinks is historic and deserves more exposure. “If sport is empowering, rowing is an example of a sport one must try and practice, especially if Egyptian because of its historic debut in Pharaonic Egypt.”
Through Sculln’Blades, Asmaa seeks to promote the sport and spread the culture that no age is limiting to when one can start. “It’s a sport that caters to all ages and abilities. All you need is to hop on a boat, row and see the city from a different perspective; Getting a tour while getting fit,” she concludes.