Doha, 11 January 2018. As part of their initiative to promote Qatar as top destination for sports and tourism, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) brought four-time Olympic champion and six-time World champion Mo Farah and other top athletes of the “Ooredoo Doha Marathon 2018” to Aspire Academy on Thursday. The student-athletes had the opportunity to hear briefly from the experienced athletes’ before they could put some questions through. Leading on from this session which took place in Aspire Dome, the visiting athletes and student athletes moved onto the Aspire outdoor athletics track where the professional athletes went onto conduct and participate in a warm up exercise followed by a short training session during which they shared some of their trade tricks and tips with the Aspire student athletes.
“How did you become a champion?” from student Mohammad Elmoftada was one of the many questions that the young track and field athletes of Aspire Academy had prepared for the high-profile visitors, Mo Farah, fellow British long-distance runner Chris Thompson, four-time Olympian Abdihakem Abdirahman from the USA and Hendrik Pfeiffer from Germany. “The kids see us winning on TV, but they don’t see what it takes and what you have gone through to get to the top. That’s why I appreciate opportunities like this when l can share my experience with young athletes”, said Farah.
He also shared what he reckons has been the hallmark of his success: “Hard work, commitment and self- belief. I adopted that attitude that l wanted to not only be good not just het better but be the best. I resolved to push myself to be the best l could be and not be contend with being just British champion of European champion but be a world champion and repeat that feat. Nothing in life gets given to you, you always have to work for it.” Asked if the rivalry is good for motivation, Thompson responded: “I grew up with Mo Farah, we trained a lot together, we constantly battled each other. One time I was faster; the next time he was. Rivalry is definitely a good stimulus and can bring out the best in you and it definitely helped Mo and me to get better when we were young.”
Taking on a question about the role and importance of coaches in an athlete’s career, Abdihakem said: “I have been with my coach for 25 years, he showed me the path and what I had to do in the different stages of my career to be successful. It’s very important to surround yourself with people that care about you.” Abdihakem who at 41 years of age is still competing at the top in marathons, extolled the student athletes to fins passion for their sport and find enjoyment in doing their sporting activity, “When you love your sport and enjoy it you are more likely to putting in your all at it and that combination usually bring success and satisfaction.”
Farah admits that he might have never had his great career if it wasn’t for his PE teacher, Alan Watkinson who first identified his talent and urged him to take up the sport. His coaches and the support he got have also played a crucial role in his career. “You have to respect your coach, try to understand him, communicate with him and give him the right information. Then he will be able to get the best out of you.” While Abdihakem Abdirahman came into running in his twenties (20s) Germany runner, Hendrik Pfeiffer at 24 years old spoke of how like the student athletes he is still learning from the likes of Farrah, Thompson and Abdirahman, “It’s a privilege for me to sit in and listen to these top experienced athletes and like you, student athletes l am working hard on cultivating the right positive attitude that will drive me to be the best l believe l can be,” said Pfeiffer. Some of Aspire student athletes in attendance will be going to Iten in Kenya for high altitude training and Pfeiffer who is also heading to the same destination said much to the delight of the students that he would like to train with them in Kenya if possible
During the practical session that included each of the visiting athletes leading a drill like running, stretches and strides, the participants of the Ooredoo Doha Marathon 2018 interacted with the student athletes. By so doing the visitors had chance to work with the student-athletes on the warm-up track and get an impression of their skills. “I’m very impressed, they are a group of enthusiastic young lads with clearly a lot of talent. They have huge opportunities here and there is no doubt that they are on a pathway to become successful athletes”, said Chris Thompson.