As part of New Arab Media’s goal to unlock Arab creativity, NA3AM has sponsored 25 year old Mohammed al Khatib, a Palestinian short-distance track runner, whose goal is to compete in the Olympics. We sat down with Mohammed and asked him a few questions about his goals and aspirations, as well as his training routine and diet. Check it out below.
Name: Mohammed Al Khatib
Home Location: Ramallah, Palestine
Sport: 100m 200m 400m sprinting events
Profession and Education Background: I have a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology. I work as a personal trainer and yoga instructor.
Years in sport: I’ve been into sports for 4 years now.
Other sports previously participated in: I did boxing for 2 years
What got you started? The idea of how much hope and joy it would give my people if a Palestinian won an Olympic medal, which has never been achieved before.
What is your biggest accomplishment in sports? My biggest accomplishment was having the opportunity to go to the US and train with one of the world’s greatest coaches and trained athletes.
What are one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? Well, I guess it’s having faith in what I do, and the mental focus in what I want to achieve.
What would be your ultimate achievement? World peace
Do you think your passion for the sport will clash with your career? No, I studied sociology in order to understand the development, structure, and functioning of human society, and to be able to learn how to create an impact on my world. So by running, I am mixing both my passion and my career together.
What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge? The challenge is mainly psychological. the idea of not being able to do it, or if I am not fast enough to do it. I usually go beyond this obstacle through meditation.
What do your parents and family members think about your passion for the sport? Some of them supported me and a lot questioned my ability to succeed when I first started. However, having made some important and successful steps (el hamdullilah- Praise be to God), now most of my family and friends understand what I am trying to achieve and support it.
How do you think this sport changed you as a person? Well, I believe that through sports in general, we become a better version of ourselves, and taking on a sport at a professional and competitive level changes you a lot.. It gave me a lot of strength to go forward in life, regardless of what kind of dream I have, whether it’s science, sports, or the arts. It made me see that every dream is achievable, if the passion and dedication is there. From that point on, it’s only a matter of time until the dream becomes within reach.
Does it get in the way of your personal life? Not really, it actually goes perfectly well with my personal approach to life as a yogi.
What’s your diet like? My diet was an essential part of my training at the peak of the season, which is when I train twice a day for 5-6 days a week. I eat 7 meals a day on specific times. My meals usually have the essential nutrients that the body needs to boost, replenish and recover. So it’s broken down to a meal every 2-3 hours. Also, a lot of water!
What 1-2 things do you believe differentiates you from your contemporaries who have tailed off in their athletic participation and abilities? Everyone is fighting their own battles and searching for their goals. I just make sure to put a higher goal than myself, and outside of what is usually considered as normal. Faith and vision are what got me here so far.
What was the best advice you were ever given? The best advice was from my coach Bill Collins; “feel it in your heart, see it in your mind, and run it with your feet”
Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by? “Breaking stereotypes since 1990”
Where do you draw your inspiration? God.
What is your greatest weakness? Doubting myself.
Who is your hero? Many people, starting with prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali.