Wednesday February 21st, 2024
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Gliding Through Decades: Egyptian Skateboarder Mo is Taking on Gen Z

At 57 years old, Mohamed Kamel is here to tell you that age is just a number.

Riham Issa

On one of our impromptu strolls amidst the peaceful lanes of Maadi’s streets, a symphony of raucous cheers intermingled with resonant grinding sounds, somewhere between a rattle and a rumble, seized our attention. Nearing the shelter of lush foliage, we encountered a cluster of budding skaters, gracefully gliding with their wooden boards across sleek grey flooring in what seemed to be a concealed skatepark.

Among this group of youngsters in baggy pants and oversized shirts, stood Mohamed Kamel, a 57-year-old man, exuberantly manoeuvring his skates and executing kickflips, akin to a 90’s old-school skateboarding pro from the streets of Chigaco, proving that age is just a number. Intrigued, we approached Kamel to uncover his story and how he mastered the meticulous art of this adrenaline-bumping dynamic street sport.

“I know I am way older than you guys, but I still love this sport, and I still skate. I am better than some of you,” Kamel tells CairoScene, chuckling lightly as he caresses his custom-made caramel-coloured wooden skateboard.

Born in France, where the skateboarding culture saw its prominence somewhere in the early 70s, the self-taught Maadi-based skater got into the sport at the age of 10. “I have been skating since 1976. I simply love skating and I don’t think I will stop until my legs give out,” he shares, ultimately encapsulating the saying of late skateboard legend Jay Adams, “You don’t quit skating to get old, you get old because you quit skating.”

During his formative years, Kamel honed his extensive skateboarding skills by observing global skaters practices at the Gezira Club in Zamalek. Despite attaining a professional stature in the domain of skating, the 57-year-old skater’s penchant for learning and embracing diverse experiences hasn’t waned. Committed to the sport, Kamel has taken his skateboards past borders, venturing into different skateboarding scenes across the globe, from his hometown in France to the United States, UAE, and now Egypt.

‘It’s like freedom when you feel the wind caressing your face,” Kamel says. “Even if you lack tricks or skills, it is still a lovely sport.”

Driven by his deep-seated passion for skateboarding, he built a collection of rare handcrafted customised skateboards, adorned with striking graffiti, which he now proudly exhibits on the walls of his cosy apartment in Maadi. “Back in the 90s, skateboards had drooping cambered decks with big tracks and small wheels. However, nowadays boards feature kicktails and polyurethane wheels for easier manoeuvrability,” Kamel explains, while holding a classic wooden skateboard he handcrafted in 1992.

Watch the full interview here: 


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