Egyptian triathlete Omar Nour believes he and his fellow professionals have a unique role to play in the battle to get more people active, especially in the Middle East.
Nour was the highest-placed Arab finisher on the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon’s short course on Saturday, coming in eighth in a time of three hours 34 minutes and 57 seconds.
That was more than 14 minutes behind winner Alistair Brownlee, who Nour described as a “phenom” after the Briton set a new course record in the capital. But the Egyptian says results should not be the be-all and end-all for professional triathletes, who he thinks have a role to play in encouraging a healthier lifestyle in society.
“I hope he [Brownlee] is as impressive an ambassador for the sport as he is an athlete because that’s what we need.
“We need people with character, people who do more than race,” Nour said. “Our job as pros is not just to train, sleep, race; a lot of people get that wrong. We’re motivators, we’re influencers, we need to talk to youth, change things, raise the profile of the sport and affect people – change people’s lives.”
And Nour is aware it is a situation that is particularly prevalent in the Middle East.
He added: “It’s key everywhere but especially in the Arab world, because in the Arab world in general we encourage sport at a young age but then we stop encouraging it and say ‘hey, it’s time to get serious’.”
Nour believes the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon team, with their various schools programmes, are leading the way in the region in trying to get more and more youngsters into the sport.
The Egyptian was just happy to finish in one piece. His appearance in the capital came just three weeks after he broke a rib at Tri Yas, while his last outing in this event ended in severe heat stroke.
“Three weeks ago, at Tri Yas, I crashed at 45kph so I broke a rib and couldn’t really train at the intensity – especially in the swim – that I usually would for an event like this. So, I’m thankful that the swim went fine, nothing amazing, the bike went as expected… felt good and the run was casual.
“I’m much more aware now of when to go into that tank than when you don’t, and on days like this when you’re not going to catch much and you’re not going to get caught you make sure you keep the high intensity, keep honest, work hard but you don’t leave everything out there.”
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