Achieving the dream many athletes hold, Flintridge Prep alumna Hanna Barakat '17 competed at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. A senior at Brown University and member of the Palestinian Athletic Federation, Barakat was one of five athletes representing Palestine at the Olympics.
Barakat competed in the 100m race, breaking the Palestinian national record with a 12.16 time and running her personal best.
“My experience at the Olympics was unlike anything I could imagine,” she says. “My dad was on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team in field hockey. I grew up listening to his stories, so I had a very vivid picture, but the reality of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was drastically different due to COVID-19.” Because of COVID-19, the Olympic games were hosted with strict regulations for athletes and coaches, who all had to remain in the Olympic Village at all times.
Barakat’s road the Olympics is a testament to her athletic ambition. At Brown, Barakat had been studying international relations and competing on their track and field team, but when the pandemic hit, she decided to take a gap year, conducting research at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and continuing her training.
“It has been a long-held dream of mine to compete on the international stage representing my ancestral country. I saw this year as an opportunity to pursue my athletic dream,” Barakat, who is Palestinian American, shares. After reaching out to the Palestinian Athletic Federation (through Instagram!), Barakat joined their team, competing at the Arab Athletic Championships in Tunisia, where she set the national record in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. The Palestinian Olympic Committee was impressed and selected her to represent Palestine at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Palestine is part of my identity and shapes who I am. Being recognized as Palestinian on the world’s largest stage and wearing the flag on my uniform is an indescribable feeling,” she says. “The Olympic Games was such a stimulating environment: new faces, languages, and flags everywhere you looked.”
Barakat has always been an outstanding athlete. At Prep, she ran track and field and was the two-time league MVP and two-time CIF All-Area selection in the 200m and 400m races, the team MVP for four years. She also holds the school record in the 400m and the distance medley relay.
Prep track and field coach Scott Jung shares that Barakat accomplished something he'd never seen before at the 2017 Prep League finals. She raced back-to-back—and won—the 100m, 200m, and 400m races, and the final leg of the 4x400m. No surprise, she also was a talented artist and co-captain of the Athletic Council on Leadership under beloved advisor Alex Rivera, through which she helped organize the school’s first-ever La Mascota 5K and traveled to St. Mary's School Nicaragua. She also received the 2017 Tom Fry Memorial Award, which is awarded to a senior who combines a generosity of spirit with an enthusiasm for athletics and “love of life.”
Post-Olympics, Barakat is returning to Brown for her senior year, where she’ll continue to compete on their track and field team.