Lahti- Bound With a New Lease on Life
In this 3-part series for IRONMAN, I had the opportunity to chat with three inspiring athletes who are headed to each of the World Championships this year in Finland, Nice, and Kona.
Alia Gamal El Deen is on her way to Lahti this week for the 70.3 World Championship. Michael Collins will be traveling to Nice for the men’s edition of the IM World Championship, and Lisa Delong will be in Kona for the women’s edition of the IM World Championship.
Up first is Alia, an Egyptian firecracker with an effervescent spirit and a smile that glows with happiness and enthusiasm. Coordinating an interview between the US and Egypt meant that Alia had to do a Zoom call, while sitting in the dark, in her car, at 9 pm at night, and she couldn’t have been more ecstatic.
For 16 years, Alia was a professional basketball player in Cairo, Egypt. But after retiring from the sport, she felt a loss of purpose, became anxious, and developed an eating disorder. In Egypt, eating disorders aren’t as talked about as they are abroad, but Alia has worked with a therapist and is very open about her recovery. She credits triathlon with changing the entire trajectory of her life.
Despite having no swim or bike background, she signed up for 70.3 Dubai just three months before the race and qualified for the 70.3 World Championship. She’s competed in numerous 70.3 races since and has become accredited as a triathlon coach.