Omar Alhegelan - Prince Of The SkyBy Betsy Barnhouse on 2003-01-17
As the sun rose over the desert I hurried for the hangar, knowing full well that time is always in high demand for a world champion. I am greeted as always with a smile and I watch as it dances in his deep brown eyes. Omar, always the epitome of manners, gives a full on hug with gentle reminder to those around him to not forget to greet others with sincerity. He hands me a resume of which I cannot use, but I glance over it and learn more about the complexity of the man standing before me. I am left amazed for there was much I did not know about him, and the knowledge only served to raise the bar.
To say that he is well educated would be an understatement, his experiences as diverse as a man twice his age. He is a man of many layers that can only truly be seen by spending much time in his presence. He is a traveler, an educator, an actor and a businessman. He is soulful, mindful, spiritual and deeply private. He has lived in several countries on different continents and speaks five languages fluently. He speaks others only conversationally and therefore discounts his knowledge of them. He is engaging and happy, that happiness carries over to those around him. As a skydiver, he offers help to all that would ask, and is quick to offer correction when errors are made, especially if it compromises safety. Omar is committed to the continued development of freeflying and thusly available to all for comment. His goal is simple, the perpetuation of the sport of skydiving.
In his unassuming way he greets people daily at Skydive Arizona, many having no idea who he is, or of his achievements. He comes across as a "regular Joe" and many are astounded when they learn of his identity. His many accomplishments have never caused him to be arrogant, for it is his belief that anyone can do the same. It requires dedication and the right mindset. He has spent the past 10 years skydiving and tells me frequently: "It's nothing that 10,000 jumps won't fix!" I laugh at his gentle humor.
With 10 National and World Gold Medals, 5 skydiving World Titles, 3 BASE World Records, his humility is refreshing. Jumping with the least of us is often times what brings him the most rewards. "How great it is to make someone's day by simply jumping with them?" And he does!
When not in training mode one may find Omar painting in his studio, or just hanging around the café to converse with the passers by.
His hobbies are many, from water sports to multi media art, and philosophy. He believes in having balance in all things in his life and works toward that end. He believes in giving back to this sport and encourages all to do the same. Whether it is simply by answering a few questions for the people who come to watch, or by rewriting rules, Omar is ready to help. He is a great role model, a gentleman, but moreover a true ambassador to the sport of skydiving. If by chance you happen to meet up with him, ask him to jump because he would like nothing better. Just a word of caution though, he can fly anybody like a "cheap kite" just ask Sangiro. It's on video!
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