Bahraini is first Arab woman to complete triathlon
Manama, June 4, 2014
A Bahraini has become the first woman in the Gulf to complete one of the world's most gruelling triathlons.
Shaikha Hessa bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa crossed the finish line of the 70.3 Iron Man 2014 competition, which was held in Lanzarote, Spain, in 16 hours and 56 minutes, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The 22-year-old trained for six months for the ultimate challenge, which saw her cover a total of 226km - of which she ran 42.2km, swam 3.8km and biked 180km.
Shaikha Hessa was the only Arab woman among 2,290 athletes from 62 countries who participated in the competition.
She described to the GDN how she found the strength to complete the race, despite facing difficult challenges.
"It was an amazing experience from start to finish," said the Bahrain Road Runners (BRR) member.
"In the beginning, I panicked because it was my first long distance race.
"Anyone at my age may just quit in front of me but I struggled catching up with my breathing in the water for around 10 minutes, but then I just continued swimming for 3.8km.
"After that was the bike phase but that day was so windy, so if it is head wind, the bike barely moves. I guess I was unlucky.
"However, I managed to reach five minutes before the cut off time.
"During the bike course, I came across a group of girls in a convertible and they started cheering for me with loud music on, but we reached to a point where only bikes could pass through so I went off alone.
"Later while running one of the girls came on a bike. She found me in the last 15km of the 42.2km run and she continued cheering me on until the finish line.
"Her name was Elizabeth and she was from Belgium - a complete stranger that was sent to me by God."
She said she underwent rigorous training six days a week for six months to prepare for the competition.
"I was inspired by my father (Shaikh Ebrahim bin Abdulla Al Khalifa) who is a member of the BRR and I've been running with him since I was a child," she said.
"I feel so proud to be the first Bahraini female to have completed a full Iron Man in the whole GCC."
His Majesty King Hamad congratulated Shaikha Hessa on successfully completing the race and lauded her outstanding performance and determination throughout the competition. - TradeArabia News Service