Fastest ever Saudi Arabian qualifies for Ironman World Championships in Kona
While reflecting on Saudi Arabia, you wouldn’t automatically think of swimming, cycling, or running for that matter — let alone Ironman. The extreme environment of a nation built on oil would not normally be your typical playground for training in these disciplines, but there is a new trend emerging in the Gulf and the infallible team has the same vision: to be the very best version of themselves through sport.
The triathlon bug has really caught on, and they are all witnessing the start of something incredibly empowering for both individuals, families and the wider community, and society as a whole. There are no longer any barriers for female or male athletes alike. If you want to achieve something, just go and make it happen like Mohammed Almarzouki.
Founder and Head Coach of Riot Racing Club, Will Clarke has led the charge in Saudi Arabia for several years and has guided a group of Saudi athletes to great success off little or no base in sport whatsoever. His recent trip there gave even further insight into the culture with which they are all aspiring to succeed in, and many of them are very successful professionals juggling busy family lives and training.
In the Almarzouki household, there are two triathletes — Mohammed’s wife Raneem has recently caught the triathlon bug and has started being coached by Riot Racing Club coach and Pro Triathlete Ruth Astle and is going from strength to strength finishing her first 70.3 in Kazakhstan. They also have three young apprentice girls who look up to their role model parents in awe. Triathlon is way more than a hobby to most of them — no more so than Mohammed Almarzouki with whom it has become an obsession.
Riot Racing Club Saudi compatriot and Vice President of Saudi Triathlon Federation Jude Jamjoom says: “Almarzouki’s dedication and commitment are unmatched! Watching his growth and clinical precision in execution over the past few years has been fascinating. From training sessions to strength and conditioning to his fixation on macros and eating clean ... it was clear to anyone that he had found his ‘thing’ and that he was fully invested in ensuring that he continued to grow in the sport.
“In less than two years in triathlon and a limited background in any sport for that matter, Almarzouki, under the guidance and mentorship of coach Will Clarke, was able to achieve the fastest Saudi time in an Ironman race to become the first Saudi Age Grouper to qualify for Kona.
“Those who don’t know Almarzouki might think it’s simply natural talent but the reality is he was meticulous in everything he did to the extent that we usually joked around with him and said that he had reached a state of obsession (probably because secretly inside we wish we had the same level of commitment).
“He is a brother, a friend, a role model, an inspiration, and a testament that hard work, discipline, consistency and sacrifice do pay off.”
Mohammed Almarzouki tackled Ironman Kazakhstan last weekend with one goal only: to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona in October. After another well-executed race, particularly using his talent on the bike to push himself up the rankings, he managed to earn his slot and finish with the Saudi record over the Ironman distance.
With less than 7 weeks to go until Kona it’s time to recover fast and get back to work... Will says: “I have worked with many athletes over the years but Mohammed is one of the most trainable and relentless of them all. Whatever I throw at him in training, he gets it done and can soak it all up and progress almost week upon week and the commitment is totally unwavering.
“He’s most obviously a very talented cyclist, in the two years I’ve been working with him he’s progressed more than anyone I’ve ever coached. Our focus now is to turn around quickly from this last Ironman and get him back in a good place mentally and physically. The race wasn't perfect in Kazakhstan, we can still unlock some barriers before Hawaii which is very exciting because there are still many improvements left to be found.
“Whatever happens it’s a hell of an achievement to make it to the biggest stage this sport has to offer, especially this quickly in his athletic career. He’ll be pretty tired over the coming weeks but most of the work is done for Hawaii and it’s nearly time for the BIG dance which I cannot wait to witness firsthand.”