By Mudassir Raja
If you have belief in yourself, you can achieve anything you want in the world. This is the spirit that keeps Oman’s top sprinter Barakat Mubarak al-Harthi running.
The 30-year-old sprinter, whose forte is the 100 metres, won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in the same category. He is the fastest man of Oman even today.
He was born in Ibra, Oman. He competed at the 2009, 2013 and 2015 World Championships and the 2010 and 2014 World Indoor Championships without reaching the final.
Community recently interviewed Barakat in Muscat on the sidelines of a press conference about Al Mouj Muscat Marathon 2020. He along with other sportspersons of Oman was present in the press meet as an ambassador for the international marathon.
Barakat, who comes from a big family of 14 siblings, always wanted to make his mark. “When I was a child, I had a dream of becoming someone very special. Always, I have been trying to be very special. I was very good footballer, but switched from football to running because in football, you have a team and in running or sprinting, you’re on your own. I have to achieve everything alone. It was in 2005 when I decided to be a professional runner. Since then, I have been training hard to raise the flag of my country high.
“At my school, I was trained by my physical training teachers. In 2005, I won all schools Oman championship. Everyone in my village was happy. After my school, I was trained by a professional coach of national stature.
“I have competed twice at the Olympics — Rio and London. I have also taken part in world championships four times. I hold the record of 9.9 second in 100 metre sprint. I have made friends with many international sprinters with very good records, especially with Justin Gatlin, the American sprinter.”
“I have also taken part in many Asian Games and once I got third position for my country. In Oman, still I am the fastest man.”
Barakat is preparing hard and has regularly been attending a camp to be fit for upcoming race events. “After Eid, I will attend the camp to prepare for the next World Championship.”
The Omani sprinter believes that self-belief is necessary to be a successful athlete. “You have to believe in yourself. You can do what you want. Do not listen to those who tell you that you cannot do it. I always challenge myself. I have challenged all those who told me that I could not do it. I dreamt of breaking into 9th second from 10th second in 100 metres run. Now, my dream is to get an Olympic medal for my country because Oman has never got a medal at the Olympiad. I will put in my best.”
The sprinter says that the running is a difficult sport. “Everybody just thinks that running is very easy. It is just to run. You have to take follow a prescribed diet, get good training every day. You have to take care of vitamin intake, your sleep routine and it is not just training.”
Barakat was in Qatar in April to take part in Asian Athletics Championship. “I took part in in 100 metre sprint. I think I was not so bad. A month before the championship, I had a hamstring and could not generate full speed.
“It was very good to be in Doha. I saw the city and I loved it. I particularly liked Katara. I like the way they focus on sports. They have world class facilities. They respect sports so much. Qatar is the only country to have a National Sport Day.”
Barakat desires to see more sporting activities in Oman as well. He wants more and more people to get active. He feels proud to be an ambassador of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon. “I am very pleased to be here as an ambassador for Al Mouj Muscat Marathon 2020, Oman’s largest athletics festival. I have made a career out of running and I hope I can inspire the young people of Oman to come forward and join me and the other ambassadors in January next year.”
The sprinter is chuffed to see an international marathon happening in Oman. “I am very excited. It is very important. Whenever I go out of the country, people ask me where I come from. When I tell them about Oman, they do not know much about the country. I have to tell them where Oman is located.
“About three months ago, I was in Spain. When I told some people that I am from Oman, they said that they had heard about the Oman marathon. I was so happy to hear that they knew about the country because of the marathon. Such healthy and sport events reflects very good image of my country.”
The sprinter sees the marathon as an inspiration for the Omani youth to have a healthy and active lifestyle. “In previous marathons, I have seen a lot of people coming from outside Oman to attend the event. There were very few Omanis taking part in the marathon. I hope to see more Omanis taking part in the marathon in 2020. This time, there is much more awareness about the event. The Omanis now know that there is an international marathon taking place in Muscat next year. I really appreciate Oman Sails, the organisers of the marathon for their great work and initiative. I am lucky that I am a part of the activity that promotes sports and a healthy life style in Oman.”
Barakat appreciates friendly relations between Oman and Qatar. “I am happy that the two countries enjoy (good relations). I have many good friends from Qatar’s athletics community. I have very good acquaintance with Mutaz Essa Barshim (a national and Asian record-holding high jumper). We have been in one club in Qatar. I love being in Qatar.”
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