Shaikha Al Shaiba: Nothing is Impossible for this Para-triathlete!
Have you ever felt you’re not fit enough to take on a challenge like the Spartan Race? Next time you have doubts, think of the inspirational woman we interviewed this week: Shaikha Al Shaiba. She is a para-triathlete from Bahrain who lost her arm to cancer at the age of 18 months.
Today, she takes on the most intense physical challenges and triathlons like Ironman and also obstacle-course races like the Spartan Race with one arm. Can you image climbing walls and crawling through the mud with just your left arm? If that is not enough, Shaikha is an accomplished business woman and is currently the vice president of an investment company in Bahrain. This woman is truly an inspiration!
Meet Shaikha at the Jebal Shams Challenge!
If you want to meet and listen to her then here is your chance! Register for the Jebal Shams Challenge in Oman (19th – 22nd April 2018) where you will hike up the GCC’s highest mountain and get the chance to listen to world-class speakers, including Shaikha Al Shaiba.
Shaikha waving the Bahrani flag at the ITU Abu Dhabi 2018 triathlon | Image Source: Shaikha Al Shaiba
ub-cool: As a child, was it difficult in school being an amputee or were your peers supportive?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: Yes, it was very difficult at the early stage of school, but my mother and siblings were very supportive and motivational.
ub-cool: What motivates you to get up every day and take on the business world and these incredible athletic challenges?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I am grateful for every single thing I have and that really motivates me every day as I believe that I am here to send a message to the world to inform them that:
“being disable is not the end of the world – it’s just the start of exploring life.”
ub-cool: Were you active in sports growing up? If so, what sports did you enjoy?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I was involved in swimming and running when I was in school. Later, I tried to get into different fields like Crossfit and different types of races.
ub-cool: When did you transition to training for triathlons and races like Spartan and Ironman?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I started in 2017 when the Spartan Race came to Bahrain. I had decided to participate in the Super distance category and after accomplishing that race, it made me decide to take things to the next level and train for a triathlon.
ub-cool: What specific challenges in the Spartan Race and Ironman are the most difficult for you to complete?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: The most difficult challenges for me are the obstacles in the Spartan Race that require both hands and, in triathlons, the swimming portion is what I am most slow at. I’m trying and working on improving my speed at swimming.
Also, in the running portion, after 6-7km I start getting hip pain where I pull a muscle, which is normally the case for me. However, I’m still trying to figure out different ways to overcome this for future races.
Shaikha flying over an obstacle in a Spartan Race | Image Source: Shaikha Al Shaiba
ub-cool: Have you had any accidents or difficult moments during these competitions? What was the worst?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: Yes, I did face an obstacle when I participated in Ironman 70.3 in Dubai this year. The waves were very high making the swim extremely rough and tough for me. I was struggling in the swim and I was able to swim only 500m before I began to get dizzy and threw up because of the very high waves. I was pulled out by the rescue team and I eventually had to pull out from the race completely.
ub-cool: I read that you’re the Ambassador for Spartan Race in Bahrain – that’s amazing! How did this come to be?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: Yes, I am the Global Brand Ambassador in Bahrain for Spartan Race. They approached me via email asking me to be their ambassador.
ub-cool: You recently competed in the ITU World Triathlon in Abu Dhabi in March. How did you do and how did it feel?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I did very well and it feels amazing! This feeling is what makes me want to train and push harder for the upcoming races.
ub-cool: What and when is your next race?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I think it’ll be Ironman 70.3 in Bahrain But, you never know… I always surprise myself and see myself participating in new races!
ub-cool: What is your ultimate goal?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I would love to participate in the World Paralympics.
Shaikha at the finish line at the ITU Abu Dhabi 2018 | Image Source: Shaikha Al Shaiba
ub-cool: What’s your training schedule? How often do you train in the week?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: For the time being, as it’s off season, I train for just 1.5 – 2 hours daily (which at the moment doesn’t include triathlon training; I focus only on both strengthening and conditioning).
ub-cool: Do you follow a specific dietary regimen?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: At the moment, I don’t follow a specific plan.
ub-cool: What do you do the day before a competition?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I prepare myself that I am just here to complete the race and keep calm and enjoy the rest of my day.
Work & Personal Life
ub-cool: What are you passionate about when you’re not training and competing in races and triathlons?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: At the moment, I have been invited to do a lot of public speaking which has now became my new passion.
ub-cool: You’re an accomplished business woman and currently VP of an investment company. How long have you been in finance?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I have been working in the banking sector for the past 13 years.
ub-cool: Does anyone else in your family also compete in races?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: I am single but I am trying to pull my niece and nephew to join in the kids’ races.
ub-cool: What is on your bucket list?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: My upcoming adventure will be on April 19th – the Jabal Shams Challenge in Oman.
Shaikha seen here jumping over the fire pit to complete the Spartan Race in Bahrain, 2018
Inspirational Advice from Shaikha
ub-cool: What message would you give our readers to inspire them to get off the couch and chase their dreams?
Shaikha Al Shaiba: No one on earth will make your dream come true. So, move out of your comfort zone and make your own dreams come true. Don’t chase for support – it will eventually come whether it’s from family, friends, or others.
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Feature Image | Sports 360