UAE: Medal-winning Emirati triathlete hopes to pass on sports skills to youngsters

'I always tell them to do what they enjoy the most', say Faris Al Zaabi


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Photos: Faris Al Zaabi
Photos: Faris Al Zaabi

Published: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 3:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 1 Sep 2022, 9:36 AM

Emirati triathlete Faris Al Zaabi is aiming at passing on whatever he has learned from the field of sports to young people in the UAE so they can raise the country’s flag even higher.

The 29-year-old, who won the UAE's first medal, a bronze, in the duathlon at the 2019 ATU African and Arab Championship in Egypt in October, is the best Emirati athlete in this sport in the UAE, according to the UAE Triathlon Federation.

Al Zaabi's career in sports started all the way back in 2010, when he studied sports sciences at the University of Victoria in Canada.

“I had opted to pursue a career as a full time triathlete in August 2018 after completing five and-a-half years of studies for a degree in Kinesiology, from the University of Victoria, in Canada,” Al Zaabi told Khaleej Times.

“This was after I competed at a local race in Dubai and placed third. In August 2018, I decided to pursue a triathlon; this includes swimming, cycling and running, full-time.”

The Emirati then moved to Spain, where he supported himself to train at the Galician High Performance Sports Center.

Since then, Al Zaabi caught the bug, and started training relentlessly to keep fit and gain more skills.

“I train two sessions a day, seven days a week, and this has greatly helped improve my performance,” he said.

“Triathlon is an expensive sport. But I am very grateful to the Mubadala Excellence program, which came onboard to support me.”

Since 2021, Al Zaabi has been sponsored by the Mubadala Excellence program. The initiative, which commenced in August last year, supports UAE-based talents in pursuing their dreams and finances their sporting activities, including training, and travel.

Al Zaabi says that the Mubadala Excellence Program has been key in helping him continue with his journey in sports. “The sponsorship came in at a time when I needed it. Now the sky is the limit, and I am aiming at participating in the 2025 World Games,” he said.

“I’m also grateful to the UAE National Olympic Committee, the UAE Triathlon Federation, and the General Authority of Sports for the great support.”

According to the Emirati, growing up, his family were very supportive throughout his sports career, encouraging him to participate in various sports, such as football and basketball.

Al Zaabi, who was born in Paris, France, to an Italian mother and an Emirati father, speaks five languages including Arabic, English, Spanish, French and Italian. This skill has helped him communicate effectively with different people throughout his career.

He says his dream is to pass on all the knowledge and skills he has acquired in sports to young people in the UAE, so that they can be good athletes and represent the UAE in various competitions.

“I am keen to train young people so they can become great triathletes. I always tell them to do what they enjoy the most,” said the triathlete.

Al Zaabi was also an Emirati health and wellness ambassador for Abu Dhabi’s Ma’an’s Let’s Connect program, promoting community wellness and inspiring young people in Abu Dhabi to achieve their full potential within their community.

Al Zaabi earned the UAE’s first international medal at the 2019 ATU African and Arab Championship. He also became First Emirati with his team mate Saud Alzaabi to compete in Duathlon at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama this summer.

He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Sports Management from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.


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