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Olympic Council of Asia meets Aziza Sbaity !

Date : 01 Sep 2019

1. How did you find your calling in running? Was there someone who motivated you or a particular incident that got you into it?

Answer: It all started when I moved from Liberia to Lebanon at the age of 11. My school had track and field try-outs and I won races by a huge margin. But back then I was more involved and in love with team sports, mainly basketball. It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I finally listened to my coaches and my parents and started training with a professional club. In 2009, my first season competing, I was chosen to represent Lebanon in the “Jeux de la Francophonie” which happened to take place in Lebanon. The vibe and the experience got me hooked, and the rest was history.

2. How is Running different from other sports? From a skill set point of view, what are some special skills you need to have to be a runner?

Answer: Running, being an individual sport is very different from team sports. I played basketball for 6 years and during that time the stress I felt was very different before or even during games. Even the skill sets are also different in some ways. As a runner, you literally learn that running against yourself is the most important thing; it comes with great physical and mental endurance. Stress wise, there is no shared stress like in team sports; you have to know how to translate stress into a positive source of motivation all by yourself. You learn to rely on yourself more, you learn to be confident on your own, and you learn to be your biggest motivator.

3. There are many different types of Running events. Which one's your favorite and why?

Answer: As a youngster, the 100m was my favorite event. It was exactly what I loved: a short and fast race. Now as an older and more experienced runner, the 200m is my new favorite race; it’s fast, challenging and super exciting. But as for the events I enjoy watching, it’s really hard to pick just one, but some of them are the 400m, 800m, LJ, and HJ.

4. What advice would you give to people who are thinking of becoming professional runners in the future?

Answer: Do it out of passion. Let the fuel to your fire come from within, because one day you will find that you have external motivation, while other days you will feel like you are alone. So make sure that your main source of motivation comes from within.

5. How do you think the Olympic Council of Asia contributes to an athlete's development?

Answer: The OCA/Asian Games is a great opportunity for athletes from different parts of Asia and the world to come together and do what they love most. It is a great place for athletes to inspire generations young and old to believe in the beauty of their dreams and in the beauty of sports. Taking part in the Asian Games last year in Jakarta and experiencing such an event was such a great motivator for me to improve all aspects of my life, it was a great motivator for me to re-focus my goals and aim higher.

6. What would you be if you weren't a runner?

Answer: If I weren’t a runner I’d probably be a basketball player or a tennis player.

7. How would you describe yourself in one sentence.

Answer: Fulfilling my ikigai (reason of being) while on the road to kaizen (constant self-improvement) in order to leave a positive impact on my country.

8. Who are some of your inspirations in this field and why?

Answer: Allyson Felix is definitely an athlete I look up to. She personifies a beautiful work-ethic and is a great example for girls and women all over the world.

9. Do you have any superstition, related to your sport?

Answer: I really don’t have any superstitions, although I have 2 necklaces and a bracelet that I almost feel lost without if I do not have them on for a race.

10. What is your favourite cuisine? (Which is your favourite dish?)

Answer: Lebanese cuisine is definitely one of my favorites. The balance and the flavor it has, are amazing.

11. Who has been your favourite fellow opponent, if any.

Answer: At a certain point in time, Gretta Taslakian was my favorite opponent. It was always super exciting racing against her. Unfortunately she retired.

2. Which is your favourite holiday destination?

Answer: I still don’t really know. But I think right now I imagine the Philippines would be a destination I would like to visit.

13. Any tips for budding Runners out there?

Answer: Nothing in life is easy to achieve. Once you keep this in mind, everything else is easy. Training hard for a goal is challenging but if you know what you are working hard for, it will all be achievable.

14. What has been the “highest achievement” of your life?

Answer: So far, my highest achievement was breaking the Lebanese 100m record for the second time at the Asian Championship this year. I believe in my potential so much and I know that I am able to do even more, so looking forward to a more exciting 2020 season.

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