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Fitness in Color

Feb 9, 2021

The first African-American male to represent the US at the Summer Olympics in the sport of rowing. 

Aquil Abdullah has been “the first” and “the only” for most of his time in the sport of rowing.

The only Black kid on his rowing team throughout high school and college. The first Black man to win the Diamond Sculls race at the Henley Regatta and the first to qualify for the Olympics.

Aquil signed up for rowing because he wanted to “goof-off” during the last semester of his senior year at Woodrow Wilson High School, the only public school in DC with a rowing program.

He quickly realized that rowing was HARD and he enjoyed the challenge. In just a few short months he made it onto the Varsity boat.

He got the attention of the George Washington University Rowing coach setting in motion a journey that led him to the Olympics. 

But not without grit, hard work, and hustle.

You can expect to hear:

- What it takes to make it to the highest level

- Living in motels and sleeping on sofas as an Amateur pursuing the dream

- Missing qualification for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia by 0.33 of a second

- Battling back from qualification heartbreak 

- Opening himself up to new opportunities that led him to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens

- What the Olympics After Party is like 

- Finding his dream job as a Software Engineer and Rowing Instructor at Hydrow

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Aquil Abdullah, OLY