Egyptian champion swimmer Farida Osman is hoping her latest achievement, of winning the Mohammed bin Rashid Creative Sports Award last week, can inspire young Arab women to pursue sport, and prove to the world that females from this region can excel at the highest level.
The 22-year-old Osman became the first Egyptian — male or female — to claim a medal at a World Aquatics Championship in the pool when she took 50m butterfly bronze in Budapest last July. She shared the podium with swimming superstars Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Sarah Sjostrom, and was given a hero’s welcome when she returned back to Egypt.
Her feats earned her the ‘Distinguished Athlete’s Achievement’ award at the MBR Creative Sports Award ceremony in Dubai last week, where Osman’s fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini, the world No. 1 in squash, was also honoured.
“Winning with Nour is I think something very important to Arab women, because we are representing Arab, Egyptian women, so the fact that we won this award is just getting awareness and attention from people all over the world that Arab, Egyptian women are capable of competing at the highest level, of being great athletes,” the two-time Olympian told Sport360.
“Hopefully we can use this platform to show the world that we’re capable of competing in sports. So we’re defying the odds and hopefully we will inspire and encourage other young female Arab, Egyptian athletes to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. So hopefully we are good role models for them.”
El Sherbini has been at the top of the squash world rankings for the past 20 consecutive months, and has been making history for Egypt in the sport — winning the British Open, the World Championship and a slew of other prestigious titles.
Happy and proud to win the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award as best Arab Athlete Thank you United Arab of Emirates and everyone who voted and chosen me for this award also Congratulations to Farida Osman for winning the Sports Achievement of the year. pic.twitter.com/bzzmLvMDRf
— Nour el Sherbini (@noursherbini) November 28, 2017
Osman, who has smashed multiple records during her time swimming for UC Berkeley in the NCAA, is back in the United States, pursuing a Masters degree and continuing with her career in the pool, keeping an eye on Tokyo 2020.
She says she’s far from done with the sport and that getting recognised for her swimming is a big motivation to keep going.
“This award means so much to me because it represents what I’ve been working hard for, all my training, all these years, so having to be able to get recognised and acknowledged after all this hard work and this really hard journey is just an amazing feeling. And getting recognised in general, this is what helps athletes to keep going and keep pursuing what they want to achieve,” added Osman.
The MBR Creative Sports Award is not just of great prestige, but it also comes with a significant monetary value, that can help sustain Osman’s career.
“Honestly money wasn’t really my drive to continue swimming or to perform well,” she admits. “I always try to believe and know that I only swim for myself and all these achievements are to me personally, not for the money. Of course money kind of gives you motivation but it’s not the number one driving force. I feel like my number one driving force is just me achieving my goals. And having money on the side is like a bonus.”
FULL LIST OF MBR CREATIVE SPORTS AWARD WINNERS
UAE Sports Personality Award: HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (UAE)
Arab Sports Personality Award: HRH Princess Rima bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud (KSA)
UAE Outstanding Athlete Award: Omar Abdul Rahman Al AMoodi (Football)
UAE Referee Award: Ebrahim Yousef Al Mansoori (Beach Soccer)
UAE Coach Award: Saeed Bin Suroor Al Khaldi (Horse Racing)
UAE Organisation Award: UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation
Arab Outstanding Athlete Award: Nour Atef El Sherbini (Egypt – Squash)
Arab Administrator Award: Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Al Gannas (KSA)
Arab Referee Award: Tarek Bin Mohamed Souei (Tunisia)
Arab Coach Award: Faris Ibrahim Al Assaf (Jordan)
Arab Team Award: Iraqi Youth Football Team U16
International Organisation Award (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations): Union Cycliste International (UCI)
International Organisation Award (Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations): International Cricket Council (ICC)
UAE Emerging Athlete Award (Nominees – voting to continue until December 31)
1. Hussain Yousuf Anwar (Football)
2. Ammar Mohammed Al Sedrani (Chess)
3. Maitha Abdulla Hasan (Judo)
4. Wadima Saeed Abdulla (Jiu Jitsu)
5. Omar Mohammed Alwan (Jiu Jitsu)
6. Abdalla Guhloom Al Maazimi (Taekwondo)
Arab Emerging Athlete Award: Mohammed Mustafa Al Sowaiq (KSA – Taekwondo)
Distinguished Athletes Achievement Sports Award: Farida Hisham Osman (Egypt – Swimming)
Difficult Challenges Award (People of Determination Category)
1. Abdellatif Baka (Algeria – Athletics)
2. Fouad Baka (Algeria – Athletics)
Olympic Creative Sports Award
1. Mohammed Gammoudi (Tunisia – Athletics)
2. Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco – Athletics)
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Kuwaiti professional BMX rider Mansour Al Safran is one of his country’s most talented and popular sportsman.
The 26-year-old, who took to the two wheels of the BMX bike at the age of 14, immediately developed a strong passion for the freestyle sport, which sees riders scale incredible heights at speed, make airborne twists and turns and gravity-defying tricks.
While the lack of facilities for extreme sports in general hindered Al Safran’s initial progress as a rider in Kuwait, it’s now a different story as Al Safran knows first-hand.
The Skate Park Adventure in Abu Dhabi, Skate Park in Lebanon and Trampo in Kuwait, among others, have given riders and adrenaline junkies new places to ply their trade throughout the Gulf.
“Growing up finding places to train was difficult but times have changed now and the support for extreme sports in the region is now stronger than ever,” Al Safran, who now helps to grow his profession and judge competitions, said.
“For example, before there was no skate park here in Abu Dhabi and in the rest of the GCC and you had to ride outside – learning new tricks on the streets wasn’t safe.”
Al Safran’s development as an athlete led to full-time sponsorship with Red Bull – a brand he has now been affiliated with since 2014. A man of many talents, he is also a long-term member of the Kuwaiti Kayak national team.
He said: “I feel so happy to be a Red Bull athlete and ride BMX. All athletes have a dream and you can get it, this year or even after five years, you just have to keep going.”
To date, arguably Al Safran’s finest feat came back in 2013 in Malaysia, where he won the Asian freestyle tournament by winning the bronze medal.
Watch the video above (courtesy of Abu Dhabi Sports Council) to learn more about the rider.
Jordanian Shadia Bseiso is the first Arab woman to be signed by WWE and she’s hoping to leave her mark on the sport entertainment industry.
A trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete and CrossFit enthusiast, Bseiso signed a developmental contract, becoming the first Arab woman from the Middle East to have the opportunity to train to become a WWE superstar.
She had attended WWE’s invitation-only talent tryout in Dubai earlier this year, where the talent pool included 40 men and women from the Middle East and India with diverse backgrounds in sports and athletics, including powerlifters, rugby and football players, amateur wrestlers, martial artists and fitness experts.
Bseiso’s athletic abilities, confidence, and natural charisma earned her the opportunity to begin training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida this January.
“My goal is to become WWE women’s champion, get on the main roster and create a big impact,” Bseiso told Sport360.
“I’d love to perform at WrestleMania – just imagine being a girl from the Middle East, loves to train jiu-jitsu, being a TV presenter, one day being able to perform at WrestleMania, this would be amazing, an incredible opportunity.
“But also at the same time I’d love to leave a mark in sports entertainment and specifically in the region just to show girls that everything is possible.”
Watch the video above to get to know more about Bseiso.