Mohammed's dream: Racing past Usain Bolt for Palestine
RAMALLAHJan 12, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jan 12, 2016 12:00 am
Mohammed Khatib is 25 and dreams of winning Palestine's first Olympic medal. The yoga instructor with a sociology degree first starting dreaming of flying the Palestinian flag after winning a 100-meter sprint a few years ago. So every day, he rushes at full speed on an asphalt track - neither very professional nor very safe - in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank where he lives.
He wants to "create hope and happiness" for Palestinians, who have been waiting 70 years for international recognition. The idea came to him in 2013, the year the Gazan Mohammed Assaf won Arab Idol - one of the most watched Arab TV shows.
"I saw how happy people were. They partied all night because a Palestinian had won thanks to the votes of the public across the Arab world. I told myself ‘imagine what it could be like if a Palestinian won a global competition.'"
Since that night listening to the horns and cheers, Khatib has trained alone with exercises he found on YouTube. In three years, he said, he has managed to lower his 100 meter time from 15 seconds to 11. But it is still far from the 9.58sec world record held by Usain Bolt, and a distance from the 10.16sec he needs to qualify for the Rio Olympics this year. Mohammed wants to believe. "Many people think I'm crazy for choosing the hardest discipline to win - the 100 and 200 meters - but I'm sure I can do it and I'll show them," he insists.