For most athletes, the thought of winning nine medals in prestigious events over the course of their career would seem like a dream, but for nine-year-old swimming prodigy Hamza Ahmed Amer that dream became a reality at the AAU Junior Olympic Games this Summer.
Hamza – who was nicknamed the ‘Nile Crocodile’ by his father in reference to his Egyptian heritage and smooth, strong swimming style – won gold in the 200m Individual Medley and the 50m Breaststroke, as well as four silver medals and three bronze medals from the nine events he competed at during the Games in the United States at the end of August.
It was enough to secure him the most event points in his age group.
But despite the overwhelming success, Hamza believes he’ll take more from the experience than from the medals:
“The most important thing was the participation,” he said. “To go there and compete internationally, and to see different swimmers and to test my skills and style with theirs whilst far away from my colleagues and coaches.
“It was a really strong competition, and that pushed me to be well prepared for the meet and to keep going.”
Remarkably for someone so young, Hamza already has a wealth of experience in the pool; he began swimming at the age of four, and quickly fell in love with the sport:
“I loved what I was doing, and my coaches told me that I had talent and a passion to swim,” he said. “Most importantly I am a good listener and was able to translate what they were telling me into the pool.”
He credits his dad, Ahmed, with instilling the drive and determination he is known for.
He said: “My father is my role model – I love his passion for sport.
“He taught me a lot; most importantly never to give up, to keep going and to focus all my efforts and nerves into swimming well.
“That will force people to respect me.”
Hamza is Egyptian-Canadian but currently lives in Kuwait with his family where he swims for Elite Swim Team Kuwait-ESTK and his school, the English School-TES. During the summer he swims for Gezira Sporting Club in Egypt and Oakville Aquatics Club in Canada:
“Finding the right team to train with was my biggest challenge as there was a scarcity of excellent trainers and private teams to train with,” he said. “I am lucky to train with people from different nationalities that could give me the chance to learn from different schools and gain different swimming skills.”
Looking ahead, Hamza admits he doesn’t like to dwell too much on what the future may hold; instead he’s far more interested in what he can control in the present.
He said: “I don’t think about the future too much; I’m just focussed on what I’m doing now as I believe what I accomplish as a swimmer will be based on what I’m learning now.
“I want to become a more balanced swimmer and to perfect all the strokes with the best possible technique, and we’ll wait and see what happens when I’m a teenager and have a more developed body structure.”
We might not know what’s to come from Hamza, but if recent results are anything to go by then the Nile Crocodile has a bright future ahead of him.