DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – One brought prestige and honor to the Duke fencing program for nearly 40 years. When head coach Alex Beguinet left, the university needed someone to take on the role.
When Duke athletic director Nina King went looking for a new fencing coach, she needed a sure thing. She needed a winner, which is why she hired Omar Elgeziry.
So, you know, just a huge honor to make that decision,” Elgeziry said.
His interest in athletics started long ago, but it took a family member’s success to guide him to fencing.
“I was a swimmer, and then my older brother competed in the Sydney Olympic Games in modern pentathlon,” Elgeziry said. “I saw my brother at the Olympics on the TV, and I said, ‘Oh, this is so cool.’”
After winning his very first match, he was hooked.
“It was my brother, but still I fence then I won, and I felt, ‘Oh, this is fun,’” Elgeziry said. “It’s fun to win.”
Elgeziry went on to become a two-time senior Egyptian champion in épée, winning a gold medal at the 2005 Junior World Cup. He’s medaled in more than 50 modern pentathlon and fencing events, including a silver medal at the 2016 Pentathlon World Cup. He also made history in 2016 as the first Olympic coach to qualify for the same Olympic Games as an athlete.
“When I was competing, I was in the mindset that ‘I’m the athlete mode,’ but then automatically when I step off this trip and then my teammates jump on this trip, this is when I put on the ‘coach mode’ then I tried to help,” Elgeziry said.
In 2011, he moved to America and thought it was time to hang up his épée.
“I have a bachelor’s degree as a civil engineer,” Elgeziry said. “I was planning to work as a civil engineer, but then I decided that I would take that coaching gig and I will go from there. And this is when it really clicked.”
First at Cornell and then the Air Force Academy, he simply made teams better wherever he went, which is what landed him at Duke and his drive to maintain the Blue Devils’ tradition of excellence.
“Do you have the Duke brand? You put it on your chest, on your head, and you know that you have a strong back up there,” Elgeziry said. “So, my goal is definitely to improve and I’m coming here to win.”