Everything was lining up nicely for Mostafa Hassan in his pursuit of Olympic glory.

Hassan, the greatest shot putter in Colorado State University history and the school’s only two-time NCAA champ in a field event, had recently qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Games with a monster heave of the 16-pound ball that met the Olympic qualifying standard. His ticket was punched. He was on his way. And then…

COVID-19.

The International Olympic Committee, citing the alarming impact of the pandemic sweeping across the globe, announced in March that it was postponing the Tokyo Games until 2021. That decision meant that months of preparation – mentally and physically – by world-class athletes would be put on hold while scientists and medical personnel try to rein in the deadly virus.

“I was disappointed at first (about the postponement) because I will not be able to see the results of my hard work this offseason,” Hassan said. “But I thought about it and realized I might be more prepared if the Games are held a year later. I’m just grateful I was able to qualify before all of the meets were canceled.”

Back in Cairo

Mostafa Hassan (left) in Egypt with CSU Track and Field Head Coach Brian Bedard, his wife Jill, as well as Hassan’s brother, Ahmed.

Hassan is living with his family in his hometown of Cairo, Egypt, where he balances training while utilizing his CSU degree from the Walter Scott, Jr., College of Engineering in his father’s business. The two-time NCAA indoor champion and six-time All-American is Egypt’s top thrower – and the best hope among former Rams to earn the school’s first Olympic medal since American Janay DeLoach won bronze in the long jump in 2012.

Despite being half a world away, Hassan remains connected with CSU through Rams track and field coach Brian Bedard. The two talk regularly online, and Hassan sends videos of his practice throws for Bedard, one of the top throwing coaches in the country, to analyze.

“Mostafa had been training really well, and when he hit the qualifying standard early on we were really fired up,” Bedard said. “He is back to 100 percent after leg surgery and throwing his best. He’s a real threat to reach the finals (top 12) and perhaps even medal in Tokyo.”

Everything certainly seemed to pointing that direction He just missed the finals at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, despite, Bedard said, “not competing very well.”

Instead, like most of the rest of the world, Hassan now has to pump the brakes on his Olympic dreams. He said Egypt has been hit hard by the coronavirus and that the country is on virtual lockdown.

“Right now there is a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and everything is closed on the weekends,” he said. “All gyms and sporting clubs are closed until further notice. It’s a little tough, but on the bright side I get to spend time with my family and have a lot of free time to learn new stuff.”

Sights on Tokyo

At CSU, Hassan was the school’s only two-time NCAA champ in a field event.

With his local sports club closed, Mostafa has had to improvise his training, lifting weights at home and practicing his throwing techniques in empty parking lots. The Egyptian national record-holder (he also holds the all-time records for CSU and the Mountain West) is taking a philosophical approach to the Olympic postponement.

“I have a whole year to train hard and be in the best shape a year from now, not having to worry about qualifying again,” he said. “I always tell myself that you never know what is best for you, that only god knows, and that is part of his plan for each person. I tell myself, ‘What if I had competed this year? I might have gotten injured or not achieved the results I want.’ So, always stay positive, control what you can control, and stay home and safe until these tough times pass.”