On Oct. 4, Radwa El Ghamry gave a presentation in Cole Cinema about her life as team captain and manager of the first female skydiving team in Dubai. Originally from Egypt, Ghamry lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with her two young children. She had to push boundaries and pave a pathway for her dreams throughout her life since most Arab women cannot even think about competing in sports, especially skydiving. Ghamry is an inspiration for Arab women who wish to compete in sports and for anyone who has to overcome tragedy to follow their dreams.
Betül Başaran, Associate Professor of Religious Studies here at St. Mary’s, introduced Ghamry at the event. Başaran said Ghamry “flew through cultural barriers” to get where she is today. Ghamry has made hundreds of jumps and continues to be active in skydiving. She is currently the team captain and manager of the United Arab Emirates National Women’s Skydiving Team.
Her dream of skydiving began at the age of six, when she “wanted to touch the clouds,” Ghamry said. At first her mother refused, but she was eventually able to convince her father to allow her to join a new military-sponsored training program because upon completion, she would receive extra high school credits. She was the youngest in this program and one of only two females with more than sixty men. However, she prevailed through the doubts of her coach and teammates and she received first place and a gold medal in parachuting in the nationwide competition in Egypt.
After high school, her dream was not forgotten, but it was pushed aside for a few years. She worked for one year at an information technology company and then married in 2007. She and her husband moved to Dubai, and in 2009 she had her first child. However, she continued to dream of touching the clouds. She took a class at Sky Dive Dubai, but to complete the class she needed 500 jumps. Once again, Ghamry rose past the assumption that Arab women could not participate in competitive sports. She and her cousin then were able to convince the crown prince of Dubai to allow them to start the first female team in Dubai.
Ghamry spent a few years competing in more than 10 international championships with her national team. However, in 2014, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and passed away the following year. Subsequently, her father passed away in May 2016. She became the new support for her mother and two younger brothers. In order to push through these hard times, Ghamry remained motivated by her children. She believes that surrounding oneself with positive people is the key to overcoming hardships. “I believe that everything that happened is because of God. God gave me positive people,” she said.
Currently, she is working on starting a new academy in Dubai. CrossFit for Women will be the first CrossFit business there for women. She says that “families can trust sending the girls there” because “women in Dubai find it hard to mix with men,” and in her academy they will not have to.
Ghamry wants everyone to know that “nothing is impossible. If you believe in yourself, nothing will stand in your way.” Her message to “know your freedom” and story of overcoming obstacles is an inspiration to women around the world.