Marwa Al Khaifi has a seven-year background in athletics, with GCC gold and bronze medals under her belt! She embarked in sailing to participate in regional and international sailing competitions and represented Oman. She is highly motivated and is a role model for Omani female athletes.
As a sailing instructor with Oman Sail, Marwa is passionate about introducing kids to sailing and helping them aspire to excel in this sport. Excerpts from an interview.
Can you give us a brief description about yourself and how your interest in sports began?
“I played many sports like handball and basketball at school, but my interest in athletics started at the age of 15 while still at school. At that time I was focused on athletics and won many local, GCC and international medals. I joined Oman Sail immediately after high school.”
Can you tell us how you got into sailing?
“I am a person who likes to take risks and always seeks new adventures and experiences. I met Mohsin Al Busaidi, the first Arab to sail round the world non-stop, during an athletic event. He convinced me to try sailing as a sport. I did that and have not regretted my decision. I was among the seven lucky girls to be selected from a pool of 30 after a strict selection process held in Al Mussanah Sports City.”
Sailing is a tough sport. how did you train for it?
“I faced a lot of challenges in the beginning as sailing is a very demanding sport; it requires patience and endurance. We would sail for hours under the sun and one could easily lose one’s temper in such conditions, but the team that I sail with, and the joyful and collaborative spirit, is what helped me to pull through difficulties. Sailing also demands physical strength and I had to train a lot to get used to such requirements.”
Can you elaborate on your training/fitness programme?
“Every morning we have a session in the gym and in the afternoon we go out sailing. We try to focus on strengthening arm muscles and endurance and occasionally run under the sun to build stamina and endurance.”
Did you follow any special diet?
“I am not very strict about my diet but I do try to minimise the consumption of junk food and sweets.”
As a training instructor, what is your role?
“My role is to make sure that the new generation takes in the skills and loves the sport. I help kids and trainees to get the techniques right – in and out of water. I have completed two instructor levels and I can now take charge of groups of trainee girls.”
What kind of races have you taken part in? do you have any memorable incidents to tell us?
“I took part in EFG Sailing Arabia the Tour twice in the Far30 boats. I also competed in the J80 boats in Normandy Sailing Week in France and in Cowes Week in the UK. Despite being new to sailing, these experiences helped fast-track my learning journey.”
What would your advice be to women who want to join tough sports like sailing? “I would like to tell all girls to try tough sports like sailing. Nothing is impossible. Thought it is a demanding sport, it is very rewarding as well. Since joining Oman Sail I have changed a lot and have gained more confidence and become more responsible. These skills not only helped me perform in sports but also reflected a change in my personal and social life.”
What are your future plans?
“I aspire to become a skipper one day. But overall I am happy to be one of the few girls to promote and represent Oman and Omani women in international sailing events.”