CAIRO: The London 2012 London Olympics are 500 days away and Egyptian triathlete Omar Nour just received the confidence boost he needs in his quest to become the first Egyptian triathlete to make it to the Olympic Games.
The businessman-turned-pro-triathlete stormed to a second-place finish at the prestigious Abu Dhabi International Triathlon last weekend in the UAE capital.
The 32-year-old, who has been training for Olympic distance races since last year, made an unusual decision in participating in the Abu Dhabi Short Distance event that includes a 100- km cycle as opposed to the typical 40-km one contested in Olympic races.
Besides the lengthy distance and the infamous Abu Dhabi heat, the racers had to cope with sand blowing in their faces as they cycled through the windy desert which in Nour’s words felt like “Lawrence of Arabia.”
The harsh elements did not stop Nour from crossing the finish line carrying the Egyptian flag, which he had asked his team to give to him no matter what condition he was in. Nour collapsed after the race with a heatstroke, but not before he made sure he was carrying the flag with the eagle the right side up.
“When I was carrying the Egyptian flag across the finish line, it was like I don’t care what I have to do, I don’t care if I end up in the medic tent, although it was really dark, I’ll do it, I’ll totally do it,” Nour told Daily News Egypt.
A recovered Nour later reflected on the race which he considered a “breakthrough.” Being a non-swimmer growing up, Nour focused the majority of his training on that area.
”The reason why I’m saying Abu Dhabi was a breakthrough race, is because my swim was very relaxed. I’ve been doing a lot of work on my swim in Florida to see how my body would respond and this was confirmation. I didn’t feel fast in the water, I was just swimming and I felt good coming out of the water.”
Nour has less than 18 months to make it to the Olympics and he is adamant on making it one way or another.
The criteria for earning a spot at the Olympics vary between qualifying by ranking, winning a continental championship race, and several other scenarios. The fact that Nour is unranked at the moment is not however affecting his faith in making it to London.
“I wouldn’t say it’s farfetched to qualify by ranking. I don’t think anything is farfetched, the Abu Dhabi race just proved that … I don’t care which way I’ll try to qualify, but I’m going for it.”
Although Nour had been preoccupied with training and participating in competitions around the world, his attention had not diverted from Egypt throughout the past couple of months, saying he was inspired by the January 25 Revolution.
“At a time when Egypt is undergoing this critical transition, I’m all the more determined and proud to be representing my country, and all the more dedicated to doing what it takes to be Egypt’s first triathlete to compete at the Olympic Games.”
As Nour proceeded with his plan he hoped to receive more support from his country after catching a glimpse of what it was like to race in front of a home crowd. He recalled that every Egyptian in the vicinity of the Abu Dhabi race rushed to the medic tent when he collapsed, offering their concern and help, a scene that he said “still gives me goose bumps.”
For Omar Nour’s latest updates visit www.omarnour.com, www.facebook.com/omarnourtriathlon or follow him on twitter @omarnour.