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Back-to-back champion

After winning his third and fourth national champion titles, diver Ammar Hassan sets his eyes on the 2020 Olympics

When Ammar Hassan was just 4-years-old, his uncle encouraged him to try diving. By his own account, Hassan liked sports. In addition to diving, he swam, played hockey and continues to enjoy soccer, volleyball and table tennis.

But it was diving that stuck and it’s diving where he’s made his mark — not just for himself or his home country of Egypt but for CMU athletics as well.

In March, Hassan earned his third and fourth National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II titles at the National Swimming and Diving Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana. He won both the 1-meter and 3-meter competitions for the second consecutive year.

He is CMU’s first back-to-back national champion and he has his sights set on representing Egypt in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

While a student in Egypt, he found it difficult to balance the demands of his education and training, as sports are not a part of the university experience there.

“Back home, I lived an hour or an hour-and-a-half from the training facility. So I’d go from home to school to practice and then back home. I was missing a lot of school and practices,” he said.

While it’s over 7,000 miles from Hassan’s hometown near Cairo to Grand Junction, CMU had three strong selling points: a world-class natatorium, Egyptian athletes with whom Hassan could live and an outstanding diving coach in Logan Pearsall, the 2018 and 2019 National Diving Coach of the Year.

Interestingly, Hassan’s two most recent triumphs tie Pearsall and four others for the NCAA Division II record for the most national diving championships won, at four each.

“Hassan brings a great attitude to the team for sure,” Pearsall said. “He’s got a ‘you can do it’ type of attitude and, being such a high-level diver, he encourages the other athletes to be more open to trying harder things.”

Two years in, Hassan is an academic junior, majoring in finance, and a redshirt sophomore athlete with two years of competitive eligibility remaining.

As for his Olympic dream, Hassan’s next test will be the 2019 FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July. To qualify for the Olympics, Hassan must be the highest-ranking Egyptian in an event.

Pearsall believes in Hassan’s chances.

“It’s definitely doable for him. He’ll have to be 100% on, but if he is confident and aggressive on that day it could definitely happen.” •

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Written by Kristen Lummis