UAE swimmer Yousuf eager to make a splash at Olympics
From the age of 12, Al Matrooshi started training with his current coach and had a professional approach to the sport.
Teenage Emirati swimmer Yousuf Al Matrooshi is hoping to make a mark at next month’s Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 100m freestyle event. The 18-year-old Dubai lad is training hard with his coach Mohammed Al Hassan and is confident about delivering a good performance in the Japanese capital.
Interestingly, it was football, and not swimming, which was Al Matrooshi’s first love.
“I am the first sportsperson and swimmer in my family,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the Fina World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi.
“I have been swimming from the age of nine but I wanted to try football first.”
While going to Al Wasl Club to start training for football, the then nine-year-old Al Matrooshi along with his mother dropped into the Hamdan Sports Complex.
The staff at the Complex were able to persuade Al Matrooshi’s mother to let the little one test the waters once before wearing football boots.
And since then, there has been no looking back for him.
“I walked into the Hamdan Sports Complex wearing Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United jersey and football boots. I just passed by the swimming pool. Captain Abdulwahed and Captain Mubarak convinced my mother to let me try swimming. By coincidence everything started from there. I am with Al Wasl Club and in the national team,” he said.
From the age of 12, Al Matrooshi started training with his current coach and had a professional approach to the sport. His hard work and determination soon paid off.
“At the age of 13 years, I broke a national record in the 100m butterfly event. It was not broken for 23 years. From then, I knew I had potential. I have broken most records in the UAE,” he said.
Other than the heroics in the pool, Al Matrooshi has excelled in his studies too.
“I am a good student. I study from 8 to 2. It’s all about the balance. It’s all about you, how much do you want that thing? How good a champion you want to become in swimming or in education. And I am finding the balancing between them,” he said.
Al Matrooshi finished high school two weeks ago and is looking to pursue higher studies in the US.
“I want to continue my swimming and education in the US by doing a major in computer science.”
But for now, his mind is occupied with one thing, one destination: Tokyo.
And Al Matrooshi has set lofty Olympics targets too.
“I am very excited to represent the UAE. I am training very well. I hope I will represent my country in the best way possible. My ambition is to compete in at least three Olympics. I want to be the first Emirati to compete in three consecutive Olympics,” he said.
Irrespective of the results in the pool next month, Al Matrooshi said the Olympics experience will boost his confidence while participating in future competitions, including the Fina World Swimming Championships to be held in December.
“Olympics will be an important experience that will help develop my skills,” he said.
Al Matrooshi’s journey so far has been filled with highs and lows, but winning events is a special feeling.
“I have to consider so many aspects, like my weight, diet, fitness etc. It is a tough life, but it is still worth it,” he said.
“The feeling of winning gold medals, breaking records, being recognised, is a great feeling. I will be leaving for Japan next week. I have been training with my coach. He is a great coach. I hope to give my best.”
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