New Season, New Coach

My life in track and field was pretty simple: I was a student at Champville, I was discovered by the first female athlete to participate at the Olympic Games: Arda Kalpalkian, I started training with Elie Saade at the age of 12 and spend 11 years training with the same person who has been more than a coach to me, he was my mentor.

I am now 23 and at the end of the 2017 season I took the hardest decision of my life, to face my mentor and tell him that I want to train with another coach. It wasn’t easy for him and definitely not for myself. It was hard because I had to put my feelings aside and do what is best for my career as an athlete.

It was indeed the hardest decision I have ever made, but it turned to be the best one so far.

I started training with Gaby Issa-El-Khoury, a man with all the qualities you can find in a human being. He’s a former long jumper who competed at the Los Angeles Olympics back in 1984 and he still holds the Lebanese indoor Long Jump record.

We were able to form a great team very quickly.

This changing was very positive on different levels: I gained more motivation, improved a lot in training and competition, I was very chill and happy in every single training session and that’s in part due to Gaby’s humor and ways of training.

“Have fun performing” has always been my motto, but I’ve been living by it for only four months now. Athletes tend to focus more on the performance and the targets but they forget to really enjoy what they are doing. Competition is easy, you only need to be ready for one day, but training is the hardest part. We tend to forget that it is not an obligation but a gateway from everyday’s stress, work, studies etc…

This new season with Gaby seems to be very fruitful. We started the indoor season with 5.66 meters. 33 cm better than my previous indoor record established in 2013 and Equal to my outdoor record which I also set 5 years ago..

I always say that Track and Field is not an individual sport, you team up with a coach to be able to perform well, you both enjoy what you are doing and both share the same dream.

Finally, I would like to say that I’m very lucky to have two amazing men in my life, Elie who is continuously supporting me even after the decision I’ve made and Gaby with whom I’m learning a lot in and off the track and sharing the same passion while enjoying every step of the way.

Elie Saade and Me at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016

Gaby Issa-El-Khoury and Me at the Francophone Games in Abidjan

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