Defying all odds and voices of discouragement Shaikha Al Shaiba is a living example proving anything, and everything is possible if you just believe. Her 2017 IRONMAN success story has inspired many to change their dreams into a reality. Obai and hill organized A motivational talk where Shaikha Al Shaiba encouraged women to be empowered. Get ready to be inspired!
RONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship progressed to a new level when the race witnessed the crowds cheering loud as Shaikha Al Shaiba crossed the finish line. The Bahrain para-triathlete inspired many differently-abled athletes to believe in themselves.
Despite constant voices of discouragement from people, Shaikha started her training three months before the IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship, Bahrain that took place in 2017. Being well aware of the various obstacles, this did not stop her from training. Shaikha’s imbalance prevented her from swimming and running like any other athlete. Three to four kilometres into the race, she faced a pulled muscle that turned bad.
JOURNEY TOWARDS IRONMAN
Reminded constantly by people that she could not make it did not stop this brave para-triathlete. Balancing work and training parallel, she works 8 hours on the job and trains even harder after that. Due to the overload, she started experiencing shoulder pain which would travel up to her head resulting in strong headaches. By October, she almost gave in. But deep down inside, she knew the race would be possible. She thought about it, believed it and executed it.
What kept her going was her strong inner belief that she could compete if she wanted to. She believed in herself even though people close to her or even in her training circles did not believe she could do it. Shaikha Al Shaiba crossed the IRONMAN finish line in 8 hours 24 minutes and 30 seconds making her a success.
Even though she faced every obstacle, she overcame each with a positive outlook. She concentrated on areas where she had to train harder such as swimming and riding due to the imbalance on her shoulders and hip. To this day her hip prevents her from running more than six kilometres without giving out. Does this stop her? No. Every day she runs for five to six kilometres and goes for therapy sessions with the motivation of getting better.
There were many instances during the race that Shaikha pulled through to cross the finish line. She recollects the windy weather and people telling her she would fall off her bike. The water was cold, but that did not stop her. The cut off time for the swim was one hour and ten minutes. With only 5 minutes left for the cut off time, she swam the remaining 500 meters to finish the swim course in one hour eight minutes.
Experiencing cross wind, head wind and tail wind on the bike course was challenging. With a lot of pressure exerted on her arm to hold the handlebar strong, she came close to falling twice. Though she found it hard to keep holding on for long, she says till this day she hasn’t felt her shoulder pain. She reiterates that she had not eaten for 50 km during the bike course which resulted in cramps but that did not stop her either. Braving through each challenge, Shaikha was determined to strive hard through every step to achieve what she had been training for.
Going through the first run seemed great but the second run saw Shaikha unable to walk or run. On the floor with severe cramps and muscle exhaustion, she continued to limp, walk, run and jump her way forward. Waiting for her down the road was her closest friend. He kept encouraging her to keep going and not to stop which was a strong boost for her. With three hours only to complete the 21 km run, she was perplexed as to how she would finish it. Holding on to her belief that she could do this, she went with the race. Shaikha started encouraging others around her which was, in turn, motivated her. Staying true to herself she successfully crossed the finish line at 8 hours and 21 minutes.
Engulfed with emotions after crossing the finish line Shaikha was at a loss for words. Happiness was proving to everyone that she could do it and that nothing is impossible. Shaikha lives by the motto that, “If you believe in yourself that you can do it, then nobody can stop you”. Greeted with fans and well-wishers at the finish line, she was driven to compete again in upcoming triathlons.
This Bahraini hero is on her way to the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi on Yas Island in March 2018. She stressed the importance of training harder to do much better in the upcoming triathlon. To all aspiring triathletes, she urges them to believe and love themselves. Not everyone would support you, but you need to push yourself and believe you can do it.