Wildcard entry Nada Akarji of Qatar is counting her blessings as she gets ready for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The 17-year-old is be one of four Qatari female athletes taking part at the London Games, courtesy a wildcard berth assured to Qatar by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I am proud of getting this opportunity,” Nada said with confidence that belies her tender age. “It is an honour. Not many people get this opportunity at such a young age. There is no pressure on me. I am just thrilled to be at the Olympic Games. Not everyone gets this opportunity,” she added.
Nada – the only child of her parents – will compete in the 50 metres freestyle at the London Aquatic Centre with the aim of breaking her personal best of 30 seconds. In a detailed chat, Nada talked about inspiring other Qatari girls to take up sports seriously. She also expressed a desire to meet the hero of the 2008 Beijing Games hero Michael Phelps.
Excerpts from the interview:
Question: What kind of pressure do you feel ahead of the Olympic Games?
Answer: I would say the normal pressure of competing. But I am more excited than being under pressure. I am proud of getting this opportunity. And this is the first time for me (at the Olympic Games) and this will be a challenge for me. My first goal is to be the best I can be and to improve my times (in the pool). Hopefully, I will be able to get better and better as I compete at more events.
Question: How about the pressures of competing as a woman from the Islamic world?
Answer: Not at all. There is no pressure at all. On the contrary, I am honoured to be in this position. I am representing my country. Hopefully I will other girls to take swimming seriously or any other sport they feel is right for them. I hope especially the younger generation takes interest in sports. So it is a great honour.
Question: Do you think you can inspire other girls in Qatar to follow you?
Question: How do friends treat you at school?
Answer: Everyone is so supportive. The students, teachers and other people at school all support me. My family is also right there for me. It is the same with my coaches. The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) delegation is my biggest supporter. I feel everyone around me is there for me. It gives my great encouragement and I feel it helps me to do better. The students are very excited about sports and are doing so much in this field.
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