Aquil Hashim Adbullah was the first African-American male to qualify for the Summer Olympics in the sport of rowing. He was the first African-American rower to win the Diamond Sculls race at the Henley Royal Regatta in 2000. He was also the first African-American male to win a rowing national championship in 1996, when he won the single sculls competition. He attended George Washington University. He co-authored a book with Chris Ingraham titled Perfect Balance in 2001, after his failure to qualify for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Abdullah won the silver medal in the single sculls at the 1999 Pan-American Games. In 2000 he missed qualifying for the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia by 0.33 of a second. He was also the single sculls winner in the 2002 United States national rowing championship. Abdullah won the Diamond Sculls race at the Henley Regatta in 2000. He defeated Simon Goodbrand by two-thirds of a boat length. Abdullah was a member of the U.S. 2001 World Championship Rowing Team.
Abdullah paired with US Navy Officer Henry Nuzum for the 2004 Qualified Olympic Small Boat Trials in Windsor, NJ. Their qualifying time was 6:23.59. Abdullah and Nuzum were also the first American men to qualify for the Olympic final in double sculls for twenty years.
Abdullah was born in Washington, DC, on June 20, 1973. Abdullah currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts, where he works as a software engineer. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington, D.C.. Woodrow Wilson is the only public school in DC with a rowing program. He played on the football team, but began rowing in his senior year. He took a rowing scholarship to George Washington University and attended from 1992-1996. He majored in physics. He also plays the saxophone.
Abdullah worked with a program in Boston named Mandela Crew. Mandela Crew is a program aimed at exposing minority youths from Roxbury to the sport of rowing.