The range of interests that humans have is incredibly broad and awe-inspiring. Some people turn to the arts when they need strength, while others choose more physically-demanding activities. Palestinian and Olympic-hopeful horse rider Mahmoud Olwan turned to horses whenever he needed some hope.
For Mahmoud, coming of age in the Gaza Strip was a challenging experience that nearly crossed the line to being hopeless. But he was never the kind to submit to the fate given to him and dreamt, instead, of a brighter future. His hopes for a better life were made real thanks to growing up around horses and being part of a local horse club.
At age seven, Mahmoud already knew that he wanted to compete and pursue the life of a professional horse rider and showjumper as his way of bringing honor and happiness to his family. Mahmoud also considered that dream a nod to his people, religion, and even to his young, hopeful heart. His vision was big and bold — be at the Olympics and serve as an inspiration to others like him.
And Mahmoud’s story, so far, is a testament to the power of dreams and what one could achieve with hard work and persistence. Dedication and discipline led Mahmoud to be named Gaza’s best horse-jumping athlete during his late teens. And before he knew it, he was on a plane to America, on the next part of his path to achieve his goals. Back home, his people took pride in his journey, and Mahmoud felt that he was carrying them with him in every step he took toward the Olympics. And in America, Mahmoud found open homes and open hearts who showered him with encouragement and support.
After being invited to come to Oregon, he met and found his partner, a magnificent stallion waiting for a perfect rider to arrive. With the assistance of the horse owner and a dedicated trainer and coach, Mahmoud began his excellent partnership with Corteo. Training in one of the most exceptional horse facilities in Oregon and receiving the assistance of the professional trainer and judge Eric Noel, Mahmoud has become the winning rider in Oregon.
While the road to the realization of his dreams was rocky at times, Mahmoud appreciated the lessons he gained and the friends he found.
He is humbly inviting those who believe in him to continue the enthusiastic support. Mahmoud believes that the expenses needed for necessary equipment, travel, and Corteo’s care, as well as the entry fee for the competition, could only be covered by the generosity of those cheering for him. And he could not be happier with the amount of interest he has received so far and hopes that the cheers will continue all the way to the Olympics.
Day by day, Mahmoud’s dream is coming closer to fruition. The failures, fears, disappointments, dedication, and hopes are fusing together to make Mahmoud surer of himself and the road he and Corteo are taking.
If you want to give your support to Mahmoud and help pave his way to reach his Olympic dream, visit his page on Instagram, or contribute here. Mahmoud is looking forward to having you with him on his journey as he flies over every jump, hurdle, and obstacle toward excellence and achievement.