By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: Amid the wide spread of some sports in Kuwait, Kuwait Times focused on three popular sports in Kuwait — running, horse riding and biking. Dr Noor Esmaeil, an orthodontist and runner who has won various marathons, said her passion for sports started around three and a half years ago, after her post graduation from the United Kingdom.
Before that, Esmaeil spent most of her time mainly focusing on her studies and work, and did not pay enough attention to her physical and mental wellbeing. So she promised herself that as soon as she graduates, she will give more time for this purpose. This promise sparked Esmaeil’s passion for sports. “Running is very special to me because I feel that it is very liberating. When I run, I feel like I’m flying. It’s a sport that does not require a lot of equipment — all you need is a pair of running shoes and then off you go! It creates for me an incredible euphoria and a sense of peace. That is why I really love running,” Esmaeil said.
She said she runs around five to six days a week, and has achieved a few successes. “Thankfully I got podium finishes in the full 42-kilometer Gulf marathons in 2021 and 2022. I have also podiumed in spartan races, which combine running and obstacle races and are a combination of both,” Esmaeil said. Sponsored by Zain, Misk Al-Marshoud, a Kuwaiti equestrian and winner of the junior championship this year, shared her experience with Kuwait Times. She said that she started riding when she was six, because she used to see her elder siblings ride since they were young. This motivated Marshoud to step into this sport.
According to her, horse riding is where she feels at peace. “I chose this sport because there is no discrimination and limits for a certain age or gender. It’s just you and the horse,” she said. However, Marshoud faces a few challenges, as she said that it is quite hard to balance between school and riding. It is hard to have good grades when she is riding every single time, she said, adding that being an equestrian is also quite expensive. But being an equestrian gives her a feeling of connection between herself and the horse.
Batoul Al-Abdullah, a Kuwaiti biker, spoke about her passion for bicycling. She said that she started riding bicycles in 2018 with encouragement from family and friends. It started as a hobby and entertainment activity before considering it as a sport. By time, Abdullah became a member of a team that brings together women who ride bicycles in Kuwait. She said bicycling is an entertaining sport that is enjoyable in the open air, and what makes it special is that it combines exercising and entertainment, besides the fact that it is an environmentally-friendly sport.
Abdullah’s favorite part in practicing this sport is that she feels connected to nature, as it is an outdoor sport. In her opinion, the best time to ride a bicycle in Kuwait is at sunrise. She said she prefers going to the seaside, which adds to the enjoyment of this sport and the feeling of positive energy. It also encourages making friends, which improves the excitement of going for further distances.
Abdullah said what makes this sport special is that riding is a respite for women, whether she is a mother, student or an employee. Unlike other sports that are practiced indoors, this sport revitalizes one’s energy. Another advantage is that this kind sport is not very expensive, as it does not require paying for membership or anything else. The only thing you need to pay for is to buy a bicycle, in addition to some safety equipment such as a helmet, gloves and a first aid kit.
In terms of challenges, Abdullah complained about a lack of bicycling lanes on streets and a lack of awareness by some drivers, which may put bikers at risk of car accidents while crossing the streets on their bicycles. With regards to achievements, Abdullah said that an achievement is not limited to earning some medals or trophies or winning races, but rather it is in breaking the record for long distance riding. She said that she has participated in several races with her team.