Omani swimmer Lara Al Yafei receives praise from Asian Olympics chief
November 8, 2018 | 1:48 PM
by Times News Service
Lara Al Yafei at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. Photo: File

Muscat: Omani swimmer Lara Al Yafei has received praise from the Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia, after she become the first woman to represent the Sultanate at an Olympic event.

Sixteen-year-old Lara represented Oman at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina and finished third among eight competitors in the opening heat of the 50 metre breaststroke competition, setting a personal best of 37.75 seconds.

The event had 43 participants, with Lara finishing 36th overall and only the top 16 making it through the next round. But Hussain Al Musallam, the Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia, says she must continue to work hard because she is setting an example for all Omanis.

"My message to her is to continue working," he said, in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman. "Don't look only at the result and compare it to others, because you are the first girl from Oman who will lead a bright future for other Omani girls in swimming and other sports. The challenges of culture and religion in Oman is huge, but I congratulate her, for her encouragement, her love and passion for sports, and I am sure that she will be the base for the future Omani girls for sport — not only in swimming but other sports, which is important for the future."

Al Musallam, who is himself a former swimmer, knows what it takes to reach the top, and had plenty of advice for what Lara needed to do to prepare herself for the challenges to come.

"Any sport needs discipline. Without discipline, you cannot even move one step forward, even if you are talented, so you need to train daily. In some sports, like swimming, you need to train twice a day. You need to do power training four times a day, you need to compete every two weeks," Al Musallam said.

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