first Olympic gymnast from Yemen

From John Crumlish on the fantastic all new International Gymnast online:

Yemen’s Nashwan Al-Harazi told IG he is “still in shock” after recently receiving a wild-card berth for this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

holt_al-harazi.jpg
coach Jim Holt and Nashwan Al-Harazi

… Al-Harazi will be the first gymnast from Yemen to take part in Olympic competition, after a tripartite commission selected him and female gymnast Thuong Di Thi Ngan (Vietnam) for the two available wild-card berths for Beijing.

The tripartite commission consists of the International Olympic Committee, the International Gymnastics Federation and the Association of National Olympic Committees. Geographic representation at the Olympics is one of the factors for designating wild-card berths.

“I know that there are gymnasts with greater accomplishments than me who have not been invited to Beijing,” Al-Harazi told IG from Yemen this week. “I feel a great responsibility to them and to the international gymnastics community to perform my best, and to be a worthy example of what the Olympic spirit is supposed to mean.”

“I’m looking to have my floor, pommel horse and vault Start Values in the top 15 in the competition,” said Al-Harazi, who placed 27th on vault at the 2006 Worlds and 21st on vault at the 2007 Worlds. “Ensha Allah, my goal is to perform my exercises cleanly!”

“Jim started me on the path that led to Beijing,” Al-Harazi said. “It was a dream come true for me to be able to live and train in America with him and Hannah this past year, and to be at Worlds with ‘my second parents.'”

In 1996 Holt conducted an IOC Solidarity Course in Sana’a, Yemen, where he asked a group of 40 Yemeni coaches and gymnasts to define their goals.

“They said, ‘We’d like to be competitive with the Arab countries,'” Holt recalled. “I responded, ‘That’s too small. If you’re going to do this, you need to pick an impossible dream and chase it. There’s no reason that Yemen can’t have a gymnast compete at the World Championships or even qualify for the Olympic Games.'”

Al-Harazi, then age 9, was among the group of gymnasts standing on a mat next to a homemade vault board. “I pointed to Nashwan and said, ‘This could be your guy. This could be the first gymnast from Yemen to compete at Worlds,'” Holt said. “And as Nashwan told you, he believed me.”

Al-Harazi “Still in Shock” Over Wild-Card Olympic Berth – IG

An inspiring story. Dream BIG is the lesson learned.

Related post: top gymnasts NOT going to Beijing

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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