Three years ago the Emirati weighed just shy of a whopping 200kg, thanks in large part of a regular fast food diet that would often see him consume three triple whopper burgers in one sitting.
His obesity was so alarming he required surgery because he was struggling to walk. However, it was just the wake-up call he needed.
The 32-year-old lost 100kg in 12 months and is now preparing to compete in the Olympic distance of the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Kasim will undertake a 1,500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run around the event’s revamped Yas Island route – the same distance that the elite male and female athletes will be competing in.
It comes a month after Kasim completed the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in a very respectable time of five hours and eight minutes, having only entered three weeks beforehand.
“If I can do it anyone can, and this is what I want to do. I want to inspire others to do the same,” said Kasim, who is head of corporate communications for a government sector in Dubai.
“I was obese, I accepted that. My life has completely changed since I started training when I was 29. I lost the weight so it’s like since I turned 30 I’ve entered a new life. The lesson I’ve learnt is nothing is impossible and start small. No matter where you start.”
Kasim puts his transformation down to coach Marcus Smith and his team at Dubai-based gym Inner Fight, where he started taking up CrossFit in a desperate bid to shed the pounds.
“I am willing to support anyone. It changed my life and I hope I can change others’ lives,” added Kasim, who joked the Dubai Marathon was “the longest run of my life”.
“My friends have since started losing weight and training. I have a friend who was 220kg and he was only 22. He started coming to the gym with me. He has lost 40kg in a few months already.”
As well as dedicating himself to training, transforming his diet dramatically has also been key for Kasim.
“Before I would eat white bread for every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he adds.
“I would have a sweet with every meal, whether it was fruit or cake, chocolate and sweets. Dinner would mostly be fast food or eating out at a restaurant.
“I would go to a fast food restaurant in the evening and would have three triple whopper burgers. So nine burgers altogether. Sometimes I would eat two but if I did not feel satisfied I would eat three. A minimum of two and maximum of three, with one or two portion of fries.
“Now I eat maybe a boiled egg and banana for breakfast. At lunch half a kilo of salmon or grilled chicken with salad or quinoa. For dinner lentil soup, nothing too heavy, perhaps chicken breast with sweet potato.
“Hydration was a big point too. I would not drink a lot of water. People think if you drink water you put on weight. You should drink three litres per day or four to five if you’re doing exercise.”
The 33-year-old Spaniard is a record five-time World Triathlon Series champion and he won three successive series’ between 2013-15.
However, he was usurped as king by young pretender Mola, 27, a year ago, a season on which decorated Gomez does not look back fondly.
Besides being denied a fourth title in a row, the Galicia native also missed out on last summer’s Olympics when he broke his elbow just over a month before the Rio Games.
Although many would have been left broken, especially as Gomez was one of the favourites for triathlon gold in Brazil after winning silver at London 2012, the veteran admits it gave him some perspective.
“It was really frustrating. It was just a normal training day and 300 metres from my house and I fell off the bike. I was going very slow, it didn’t seem to be a bad crash but I had the ground with my elbow and I broke it and there was no time to recover for the Olympics,” recalled Swiss-born Gomez.
“It was sad but a few days later I accepted it. It’s part of the sport when you do it for so many years. I had a great time and some great success but it was just one of those times I wasn’t successful and I had to recover and get back stronger than before. I tried to deal with it that way.
“I’ve won so many titles and big races so it gave me some perspective of things. It was not a great situation but it’s part of life and sport and you have to deal with it. I’ve had setbacks in the past and the fact I overcame them made me a better athlete and stronger so I’ll take this last one the same.”
Gomez is one of the leading elite male contenders for the season-opening World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi, with the men racing on Saturday around the new location of Yas Island, but Gomez insists Mola is the man to beat.
“I was happy for him being world champion. He was on the podium for three years before finally stepping up to first spot, so he deserved it,” Gomez said of his younger opponent, who was third behind Gomez in 2013 and runner-up twice to him in 2014 and 2015.
“I’m good friends with him but of course when I’m racing against him I’m trying to beat him and he’s the world champion so he’s the one to beat at this race, and I’ll try my best to do so.”
Jodie Stimpson, meanwhile, feels this year’s elite women’s series will be one of the most widely contested in recent memory, but the Briton is determined to claim victory after a “devastating” 2016.
The 28-year-old double 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medalist has fond memories of Abu Dhabi, having claimed victory in the UAE at the same event a year ago.
However, after such a promising start, her 2016 season then went into a tailspin, losing out on selection to the British triathlon team for last summer’s Olympic Games to Non Stanford, Helen Jenkins and Vicky Holland, before an Achilles injury then ended her campaign.
She’s back at the scene of what turned out to be her sole 2016 highlight this season as 2017 opens with the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi tomorrow.
And Stimpson is determined to put her year of hell firmly behind her.
“Missing Rio was absolutely devastating and I was driven then to prove a point,” admitted Stimpson.
“It gave me motivation to finish the season well, but then I had a devastating injury. I don’t think everything else could have gone wrong.
“That was the worst thing, missing Rio when I was so close to it. But I did all I could do, I have no regrets, I just wasn’t good enough. I think that’s why it was easier to come away from it. I did my best and just didn’t make it.”
Stimpson has a perfect opportunity to start the season on the right foot in the UAE capital. Reigning series champion Flora Duffy pulled out of the season opener on Tuesday with a hip injury, while several opponents are taking a season off to start a family.
One of those is American Gwen Jorgensen, who was back to back series champion in 2014 and 2015 and also won gold in Rio.
A record-breaking 2,500 athletes from 52 countries will take their marks for the third annual ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi as 92 of the world’s leading elite triathletes and 2,380 age group participants race on a brand new course on Yas Island.
Leading the charge is the strongest field of elite athletes to be found anywhere in this region, all vying for top honours in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
The elite field boasts countless World Championship titles, Olympic medals and an incredible total of 353 ITU World Series titles between them.
The women will compete on Friday, March 3, at 15:55 with six of the world’s top 10 women on the Abu Dhabi start list.
That includes Abu Dhabi’s reigning champion, Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson who is looking forward to the race.
“There’s been a lot of positive changes in my life that have made me look forward to racing this weekend,” said Stimpson. “As an athlete you try and prepare for each race so when you’re chucked on any course you can handle it. That’s the athlete that I aspire to be.
“The course will certainly test me technically especially on the bike course, which is the bit that matters the most on this course, is where you have to be really on it.”
The men’s race takes place the following day on Saturday, March 4, at 15:55 where the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi’s top four superstars return to compete for the title.
Topping the list is 2016 ITU World Champion, Spain’s Mario Mola and crowd favourite, five-time ITU World Champion and two-time Olympic medallist, Javier Gomez.
“I’m excited to be here and racing ITU,” said Gomez who will face fierce competition from 26-year-old Mola who is intent on securing a hat-trick.
“After the IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai last month I’ve been training well, with more speed needed for this race. I’m feeling good, I’m excited to be back and let’s see what happens this weekend.”
On whether targeting a hat-trick brings with it added pressure, Mola said: “Not really, I see it as a motivation to try new things as I’ve done in the past.
“It’s been a great way for me to start the year in Abu Dhabi and with it comes new challenges. Maybe I’ll do what I’ve done the past couple of years and see if it works to my favour this year as well.
“It’s great to have Javier here but with it, it creates a challenge, it’s always very hard to beat him in that top position. It is never easy and it wasn’t easy to get the title last year. I feel motivated and I am optimistic about this weekend’s race.”
“The competition is fierce this weekend with the world’s fastest triathletes uniting for the first time this season on an all-new course, all with their eye firmly set on winning the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi title,” said Race Director, Gary Marescia.
For amateurs, entries into the ITU World Triathlon’s Olympic distance which includes 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run has seen the biggest increase with more amateurs making the leap into the sport as triathlon grows in popularity in the region.
The event also sees the Junior Races – a fun event aimed at encouraging youngsters to get active – taking place Friday from 08:00.
The grassroots event, which has seen numbers double this year compared to 2015, will see close to 250 children participate across four race categories on Yas Island, cheered on by five-time world champion Javier Gomez.
The Race Village on Yas Island, will be open on Friday and Saturday from 06:30 and 05:30 respectively, to 18:30 and will feature a grandstand, bike park, a range of refreshment kiosks and a kids entertainment zone.