Hard work, early realization leads El-Sandali to successful career



Ehab El-Sandali won the 10K race at the 2019 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference outdoor Track & Field Championship.

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

Senior Ehab El-Sandalirealized early on that hard work needs to be done in order to succeed, and he attributes this realization to his successful career at Iona.

The experienced distance runner didn’t start his athletic career with cross country. El-Sandali played basketball when he was younger and thought running would be able to help with his physicality on the court.

“I would show up to meets but not show up to practice,” El-Sandali said. “I was fortunate enough to have a coach that was very supportive even though I didn’t practice.”

El-Sandali would show up and win easily in the early years. It wasn’t until his junior year of high school that he took the sport seriously and realized that to be good, you have to practice diligently.

Many years later, the former high school basketball player turned runner has represented both his college and country.

“It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made, and here I am,” El-Sandali said.

El-Sandali competed for his home country of Canada in the International Association of Athletics Federation World Cross Country Championships in March 2019. It was the first time he competed for his country at the senior level.

The IAAF World Cross Country Championships is where the best of the best go to compete. If you’re competing there, you know you’re one of the best in the world, and that’s exactly how El-Sandali felt when he was called up to represent his country in such a high-profile environment.

Despite not having the best performance ever, El-Sandali left the international competition with a new-found sense of confidence that has helped the collegiate runner perform better and work harder.

“It was a very humbling experience,” El-Sandali said. “It just showed me how many good guys are out there.”

All of this glory and success isn’t just handed to anyone. For cross country, the amount of work, discipline and dedication needed to win is just like any other sport, according to El-Sandali. Those who have that sort of commitment to the sport are separated from those who just compete.

Thanks to that hard work and dedication, the men’s cross-country team is able to celebrate glory season after season. This year’s team has continued that legacy, winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships for the twenty-ninth year in a row. For El-Sandali, it was the proudest moment of his Iona career.

The pressure on the team each year is always present, as they are responsible for continuing the nearly three-decade streak. The team has each other’s back during competition, making sure to make up the slack of any team member’s performance.

The individual win is just as special as the team win for El-Sandali. Due to the high performance and standards for the team, even the most challenging of meets are seen like just another practice for the team to work through.

The team, if they perform well enough, chooses who takes the individual win based off seniority.

“This year, [senior] Jack O’Leary and I did rock-paper-scissors to decide who would take the win,” El-Sandali said. “Fortunately, I went with rock, and rock always wins.”

El-Sandali hopes to be remembered for how much he’s improved during his time at Iona. He also aims to help out his team as much as he can for his remaining time here.

The MAAC champion hopes to become a professional runner after college and continue his career in cross country.


El-Sandali won the Metro Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Meet for the Indoor Track & Field Championship in the 2017-18 season.