Figure at the world

Feature: 80-year-old Egyptian bodybuilder amazes younger gym mates

2018-03-13 04:00:37 (Beijing Time)         news.xinhuanet.com

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Sobhi Mohammed does exercises at al-Shams club in the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, on March 11, 2018. "Age is just a number" is the favorite quote of 80-year-old Sobhi Mohammed from Egypt, who has been a bodybuilder for almost 60 years. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

by Ahmed Shafiq

CAIRO, March 12 (Xinhua) -- "Age is just a number" is the favorite quote of 80-year-old Sobhi Mohammed from Egypt, who has been a bodybuilder for almost 60 years.

"People keep asking me when I am going to retire ... I simply answer never," Mohammed said as he did warming up exercises at al-Shams Club on the outskirts of Cairo, where he has been working out for the past 40 years.

It is generally believed that people grew less active and lose appetite for life as they aged.

However, Mohammed, who was the director general of property tax authority in Giza province, deems that age can never block ambitions if people still have a strong will.

"I never stopped exercising for more than 60 years ... I may have been training less now, but I am still exercising," he said during a short break to catch some breath.

Mohammed does look much younger than his real age.

"That's simply because workout keeps me fresh and healthy," the man proudly said.

Mohammed's love for sports started when he joined his school gymnastics and athletics teams. He once won the third place in Cairo's Gymnastics Championship.

In university, he started to pay more attention to bodybuilding, not only for a better shape, but also a better health.

"For me, sport is a lifestyle, I am addicted to sport," Mohammed said before he started a tough weightlifting exercise.

His well-shaped strong muscular body helped him appear in Steve Reeve's famous movie Son of Spartacus, also known as "the Slave" in 1962.

Mohammed played a minor role of a muscleman in the movie, which was filmed in Egypt and tells the story of an ancient roman soldier who was sent to Egypt by Julius Caesar to monitor one of his commanders.

"I earned 50 Egyptian pounds per day, which was a big amount of money," he said with a smile.

Mohammed, now the father of four, said training hard and having a good exercise schedule as well as a healthy diet plan are the real foundation of bodybuilding.

He warned young people of taking bodybuilding supplements that can pose health risks, recommending them to go for vitamins and other all-natural supplements that do not cause harm.

"Most of supplements nowadays are not natural and cause many health problems such as acidic blood, fatty liver, stomach cramps and kidney damage," he said. "My grandsons work out too, but I always advise them not to rely on these kinds of supplements."

Despite his age, Mohammed, known as the "last Pharaoh" in Egyptian media, dreams of joining bodybuilding contests.

"I hope I could join world championships, but this requires money and support from the government ... I have friends in their 70s and they participated in swimming competitions in the United States," the man said as he drenched in sweat.

For young bodybuilders at al-Shams Club, Mohammed is a godfather and an example to be followed.

"Mohammed is 40 years older than me, but he does his exercises as if he is much younger than me," Mohammed Gabr, an athlete and employee at an aviation company said.

Gabr said Mohammed is a great example of resilient and hard work for all athletes at the club, adding they were lucky to share this kind of sports with such a "hero."

"We watch him working out in shock, he really crushes us ... we wish we could just be like him when we are at his age," Gabr added.