26 October 2020
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister meets swimmer Nada Mohammed Wafa

August 1, 2013
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Nada Mohammed Wafa was the first Qatari female swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games. Last summer Nada competed in the Women’s 50 metre freestyle and created history as Qatar’s first Olympic swimmer.

The 18 year old now features in the new Hey’Ya: Arab Women in Sport exhibition at the National Football Museum in Manchester, where we managed to quickly catch up with her ahead of it’s opening this week.

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What is it about swimming that you love?

I love everything about swimming, I love being in the water. You really feel free when you’re in the water. Whenever I am stressed or feeling under pressure from my work and studies, swimming really helps me relax.

How did it feel to take part in the Olympics last year?

It was a truly amazing experience; I felt such pride and honour to represent my home country of Qatar. The whole experience was so very surreal, it was like a dream come true, especially in the opening ceremony and during the race. I have always dreamed of being in the Olympics, so I am very thankful to God and my country.

What did your achievement mean to your family?

It meant the world to my family, they were so proud to see me standing on the blocks of The London Aquatics Centre during the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was a very emotional experience for them, to watch me participate and compete against world class athletes. It was especially emotional during the opening ceremony; they have told me they felt extremely proud whilst watching me carry our flag.

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Do you think you’ve set a precedent for more women from Qatar to become involved in sport to an elite level?

I hope so, my goal was to promote the sport and encourage people from younger generations to do the sport they want to do, especially swimming.

Why do you think you were the first female Olympic swimmer from Qatar? Why has it taken this long?

Over the past few years there has been rapid progress and more and more parents are encouraging their girls to play sport. With the London Olympics behind and the FIFA World Cup ahead, Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture brings two of the world’s most enthusiastic sporting nations together to further social inclusion, and encourage healthier lifestyles.

I am proud to be part of this and I am doing all that I can to encourage people from younger generations, especially girls to join swimming or any other sport, to feel the joyful atmosphere of a sporting community.

Why do you think it’s important that women from all backgrounds are able to have a voice in sport?

Because sport is very important, whether you are doing sports professionally or not, doing something that you love, to have a healthy lifestyle and a healthy figure is important in general.

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Tell us about your involvement in the Hey’Ya exhibition – what do you hope this exhibition will achieve?

I am so proud to be featured in this amazing exhibition and I am ecstatic that the exhibition has been brought to Manchester as part of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture.

I enjoyed learning about UK culture last year when I competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games and I’m so pleased I have had the opportunity to learn more about the country by exploring Manchester. It really is a beautiful city with stunning buildings, wonderful people and great culture. I hope people of the UK enjoy learning about my country’s culture as much as I did learning about theirs.

The exhibition, by internationally renowned photographer Brigitte Lacombe, will run in Manchester from 26 July until 13 October. The exhibition features a series of large-scale photographs of Arab sportswomen, from beginners to Olympians, from 20 different Arab countries, shown alongside videos by Marian Lacombe. The exhibition was conceived by Qatar Museums Authority to encourage more Arab girls to participate in sports and comes to Manchester as part of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture celebrations.

Natalie Morris, Sportsister
The Women’s Sport Magazine

Photo credits:

Exhibition images: Brigitte Lacombe
Underwater image: Jon Super Photography

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