The Woman Who Outruns the Men, 200 Miles at a Time
Courtney Dauwalter specializes in extremely long races. But her success in winning them has opened a debate about how men’s innate strength advantages apply to endurance sports.
By Rebecca ByerlyPhotographs by Max Whittaker
Dec. 5, 2018
HOMEWOOD, Calif. — At 1:40 in the morning, running through the woods near Lake Tahoe, Courtney Dauwalter began hallucinating.
She saw live puppets playing on a swing set on the side of the trail. Trees and rocks turned into faces. She was on her second night without sleep, 165 miles into a 205-mile race through the mountains, pushing her body to levels considered physically impossible not long ago, and seeing very strange things in the night.
Dauwalter had been on her feet for almost 40 hours and was leading the field of 215 runners as she set her sights on a course record for September’s Tahoe 200, one in a series of very, very long ultramarathons, the latest craze among distance running’s lunatic set. Their hero is Dauwalter, a 33-year-old with a reputation for outrunning men and shattering course records. She has won 11 ultramarathons and finished second in seven other endurance races.
This weekend, she will try to break the women’s world record for the most miles run in 24 hours, at the Desert Solstice competition in Phoenix. She will have to run more than 161.55 miles to do so. She already holds the American women’s record, 159.32 miles. This fall, she ran 279.2 miles in what’s known as Big’s Backyard Ultra, a grueling race of attrition during which runners have to complete a 4.16667-mile loop each hour. If they want to put their feet up, eat, go to the bathroom or close their eyes for a few minutes, they have to earn the time by running faster. The last person standing wins.
Midwest Regional Sports Tournament: “The Year of the Woman”
The Midwest Youth and Sports Board hosted its annual Midwest Regional Sports tournament at the Libertyville Sports Complex on Saturday, November 24. Shaifali Lalani, Co-Project Manager of this year’s tournament, said she was most excited about the number of athletes this year. “We had originally planned for 100 to 150 at most, given the Thanksgiving holiday weekend; we ended up doubling that with over 300 participants!” Additionally, over 100 volunteers and 300 spectators were in attendance making it one of the largest regional sports tournaments held in the region.
In keeping with 2018’s theme of “The Year of the Woman,” the Midwest saw a surge in female participation at this year’s tournament. Historically, women made up about 24% of athletes at this tournament. This year, that number jumped up to 41%, a contributing factor of the strong participation numbers.
Five, all-female teams comprised of all first-time participants, competed in Throwball. One of these women, Sheila Lakhani, remarked, “I had a great experience. Our team consisted of 21 ladies, none of whom I had personally interacted with before, and I made some great friendships out of this.” Would she participate in a tournament like this in the future? “Absolutely!” she replied.
Additional changes to the tournament including draft style Volleyball, an amateur division within Table Tennis, and three months’ worth of pre-tournament Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board coaching for Under 16 Basketball, also allowed for a new and diverse group of athletes to join in the competition.
A record number of families competed together with individual family members playing different sports. The Arifs were one of those families. “Today, all members of my family played. My sister played basketball, my mom played Throwball and my dad played volleyball against me…so that was interesting!” said Fatima Arif, age 24. “I beat my dad! He had a lot of fun from what he told me!” This was Fatima’s first time playing at an Ismaili tournament. She and her volleyball team took home the Silver medal.
Off the court, athletes, spectators, and volunteers had an opportunity to serve the local community. I-CERV (Ismailis Engaged in Responsible Volunteering) hosted its first ever ‘Wrap-a-ton’ in which members of the Midwest Jamat wrapped new, donated toys. Altogether, the community was able to wrap over 150 new toys to be distributed to various organizations that work with children locally.
Capping off the list of firsts for this year’s tournament was the group that put the event together. Nearly every single member of the Midwest Regional Sports Tournament project team was a youth under the age of 30. “The leads of this project were all very young. It was the first time a group this young led a project that was so big in size and scope. What a great opportunity for our young Jamati members to help organize an event that not only helps their personal growth but also their professional growth,” reflected Shaifali Lalani. “I am so proud to be part of this team, and I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
This project team and tournament set the stage for 2019's highly anticipated Midwest Regional Sports Tournament, which possibly will become the first step toward qualifying for the next, international Jubilee Games.
Khel Utsav, organised by the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for Southern India, was a sports event seeking participation from Jamati members aged between 6 and 60 years. The objective was to develop a sports culture in the Jamat, celebrate sportspersons and take a step towards Building Sports Champions.
Celebration was the buzzword for the jamat of Hyderabad once again in the month of October 2018. This time it was not 21st March or 11th July or 13th December!
It was for KHEL UTSAV--A Celebration of Fitness; A Celebration of Sports; A Celebration for creating CHAMPIONS!
The participants were grouped in four categories - Building Champions (6 - 15 Years), League Mania (16 - 40 Years), Fitness First (41 - 55 Years) and Golden Games (56 Years and above). They underwent rigorous training for about 60 days, following which their performances were recognized and rewarded in the Grand Finale held at the Kompally and Chiragali Jamatkhana Centres.
The culmination of this celebration was the closing ceremony. The ceremony included not only the finals of the Table Tennis League and the Traditional and International Volleyball matches but also cricket matches. The players were the Leadership of the Hyderabad, Mehdipatnam, Secunderabad and Kompally Jamatkhanas, and the Local and Regional Councils. To encourage parents and to help them visualize the path of future sports champions, achievers in the field of sports were felicitated. These lucky youngsters were Nirali Padaniya, Ilyan Sathani, Zoeb Dhamani and Ali Mohammed Hamid. Children who participated in the building champions sessions were awarded certificates and winners from all the leagues were given awards amidst cheers and good wishes from the jamat, who attended the Utsav in large numbers. Their enthusiasm was unparalleled.
George Washington Carver quotes, “When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way; you will command the attention of the world.” Khel Utsav was one such feat.
The Southern India region was able to achieve participation from 762 participants and this is just the beginning. Today, the region reports over 100 children enrolled in regular play. The setting up of Volleyball/Throwball courts in Kompally and the Table Tennis tables in Hyderabad have proven to be a great hit among the Jamati members.
Khel Utsav created a lasting impression among the jamat, increasing their awareness towards sports and has been responsible for the pivotal change in the attitude of the jamat towards sports and fitness.
One Program; One Dream; One Team; and a Thousand were Impacted!
Basketball clinics in India and Pakistan foster international fellowship
In response to Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision to bring together jamats from around the world, several American Ismaili athletes recently traveled to India and Pakistan to demonstrate fellowship through sports.
This was part of a broader initiative through which elite athletes were identified by the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board USA (AKYSB-USA) to serve jamats in other countries by organizing sports clinics for local athletes. Similarly, countries such as India and Pakistan received guidance on collaborating with western countries to implement this bilateral model.
“The objective was to identify athletes who have excelled in the sport of basketball, as well as done well academically and professionally, to serve as coaches and role models for youth in India and Pakistan,” said Raheel Khawaja, Chairman of AKYSB Western USA and Project Manager for International Sports Clinics. “We wanted the youth to understand that success does not mean excelling in just one area of life, but that it comes as a package when one does well academically, athletically and professionally.”
In 2016, the first clinic of its kind was held in India. In December 2018, India and Pakistan both hosted basketball clinics. Six TKN volunteers were members of the team from USA that delivered these clinics:
Creating tomorrow's Ismaili Muslim American leaders through basketball in Sugar Land
Basketball is a global sport, bringing a universal language to the hardwood.
The Ismaili Muslim American community of Sugar Land uses basketball as a way to teach leadership skills to youth.
Young Muslim Americans are not only taught the fundamentals of basketball at the Abid Umatiya Sports Complex, but are also being mentored in becoming leaders off the court.
"Through this platform, we instill and promote the idea of volunteerism to our future young leaders and teach them to give back to the community," said Rahim Maknojia, president of the Community Focus Foundation, which owns and manages the Pioneer Community Center where the Abid Umatiya Sports Complex is located.
Blind Cricket and Bowling Tournament for differently-abled individuals
Inclusivity is an imperative ethic for the growth of any community. The only true disability which exists in society is the inability to accept and acknowledge each other’s differences. The Aga Khan Youth and Sports for Pakistan (AKYSB, P), in collaboration with Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBBC) and Aga Khan Social Welfare Board, arranged a Blind Cricket and Bowling Tournament for differently-abled Jamati members from Gilgit, Hunza, Ishkoman Puniyal, Gupis Yasin, Upper Chitral, and Central Regions.
The tournament was organised to create an inclusive environment for blind individuals and to engage them in sports by providing them training and encouraging them to take advantage of national and international opportunities. Being inclusive propagates the idea of appreciating differences and embracing diversity on the disability spectrum instead of marginalizing these talented young people. 42 dynamic individuals embarked on this journey and engaged themselves in professional coaching from renowned coaches, namely Coach Ibrar Shah, who has been associated with the PBCC for the last six years, and Coach Anees Javed, who was the Pakistan Blind team captain in 2016 and is also associated with PBCC.
Sports have been part of the human experience throughout history, as far back as Sumerian times (4000 BCE), and ancient Egypt. They were often associated with religion, making sports a sacred activity. In those times, common sports included wrestling, archery, and martial arts, each requiring meditation and intense concentration.
The first Olympic Games were held in Greece in 776 BCE as an appreciation of what the human mind and body could achieve. Indeed, the ideal of physical perfection for the Greeks was a muscular and athletic body, as evidenced in their sculptures. Later, during Roman times, blood sports emerged, such as with gladiators, reflecting Rome's focus on conquest. Native Americans preferred to illustrate their skill and speed with horses and weapons to ward off rivals as well as for hunting.
In Muslim history, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) enjoyed sports, and encouraged parents to teach swimming, archery, and riding to their children. The ancient sport of Polo hails from Central Asia, and followed the nomads’ migration to Persia; Historical miniatures and manuscripts show women and men enjoying the sport. Later in history, archery was designated as the traditional sport of the Ottomans for centuries.
Sports can be a beautiful and graceful spectacle, as in the choreography of a synchronised swim team, ice skating, a rugby team handing the ball down the line in an orchestrated linear movement or the actions of a rowing team gliding its oars through a river, as one composite body. Many sports offer a mixture of the ultimate test of teamwork, endurance, and strength.
In more modern times, sports have become more organised, at all levels in society, from schools and leagues, to national tournaments and international events. Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, in a 1931 broadcast in London, said that public health could be promoted "both by education thereon and by the encouragement of physical culture, hiking, sports, and games." He enjoyed golfing and horse riding, but in the 1940s he had also encouraged the Jamat to play sports "vigorously," for health reasons; and Jamats around the world went on to initiate such programmes. Mawlana Hazar Imam himself was an avid skier, participating in the 1964 Winter Olympic Games. He also participated in ice hockey and football as a student.
The importance of sports for the Jamat is underscored by the inclusion of Aga Khan Youth and Sports Boards in many Ismaili Councils, which encourage sport and wellbeing initiatives. The most recent examples of major sports events organised by Jamats were the Jubilee Games of 2008 and 2016, held in Nairobi and Dubai respectively.
Today, there are countless exercise and sports options to pursue for individuals, such as running, bicycling, weight training, aerobic exercises, and yoga. Organised events such as basketball, baseball, football, hockey, and cricket are among the most common but even surfing, skateboarding, and climbing are now considered official Olympic sports.
No matter the choice, exercise remains at the heart of all active sports, the health benefits of which have been well documented. But organised sports have other advantages; they instil discipline, concentration, teamwork, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of one's own team and of opponents, the need to put the team before individual ego, respect for rules, and sportsmanship. It has been said that “It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.” While many would disagree, claiming winning to be more important, the larger point being made is that competitive sports should accord respect to all players, and be played with integrity.
Sports are also about values, and can be useful in the development of children. Obvious positive values sports can encourage include respect for others, humility, patience, perseverance, commitment, the importance of physical health, resilience and dealing with loss, teamwork, and the pursuit of excellence. These traits usually affect one's character and how one leads their life. In a 2014 article in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, authors Dawes and Simpkins assert that "Participation in sports creates character, builds character, and reveals character."
While many external facilities exist for exercise, our Jamati institutions have provided platforms for sports and recreation for our youth, as well as our seniors. It is for us to make the most of them, and encourage our youth to participate - for our own physical health and mental well-being.
During the month of April, The.Ismaili will shine a spotlight on community initiatives, and achievements of members of the Jamat of all ages in the realm of Sports and Recreation.
The European Sports Festival (ESF) will be hosted in Nottingham, UK from 19-21 April. Inspired by the values of the Jubilee Games, and building on previous sports festivals, this year’s theme is Meet, Compete & Unite. The aim is to foster the spirit of One Jamat.
Active lifestyles invigorate, infuse joy and generate an energy that enables us to take on the world. This is the vision of the Youth and Sports Board. Be active, be alive and be physically and mentally fit. As the Youth and Sports Board reaches out to communities across the regions, it unites them in a common event, with the objective of bringing to the forefront talent that the community has.
Sports, be it football, throw ball or even volley ball has an uncanny way of uniting the community. The 2019 Sports Championships under the banner of Regional Unity Championship brought communities from the different regions under one roof. While the games demanded a competitive spirit on the ground, the motto was ‘may the best team win’. As organisers, it was heartening to see regions lauding for their individual teams. The magic of the game wove together participants from all regions and the participants shared stories of their regions, their strategies and their dreams. The sharing of stories will stay with them for a life time. The evening is a time of bonding and engaging with new friends. The vision of our Imam of bringing communities together is subtly but surely being implemented.
The final day delivers a crisp, efficient flow of events. This perfection needs great planning and strategy. Organising a sports event requires good leadership that takes the final decisions, an organising team that is responsible for the planning and delivery of the programme and a team of dedicated volunteers that are ready to learn and implement tasks assigned to them. The tasks are numerous ranging from finalising the dates and venue of the sports meet, deciding on the ceremonies that will be conducted at the meet, the programme protocol, arranging accommodation, host families and food services, ensuring insurance is in place, doctor on call and clinics in the event of mishap, communication and compilation of emergency contact lists. The media and marketing team has to be in action to reach out. Venues need to be finalised, Juries to be invited, scoring boards to be updated. The communication team updating constantly the current status of the event and of course budgets matter so the finance team has to be know exactly what is been planned as they need to budget the event. Each role helps to build personalities and mould the community to be the leaders of the future.
The events were launched in January with the Football being flagged off on 20th January at Chatrabhuj Narsee School Mumbai, followed by Throw ball and Volleyball on the 27th January Prajna High School Mumbai and Dahisar Jamatkhana.
The Regional Building Champions in-charge, Mr Sahir Samnani expressed that his team got lot of requests and positive feedback from the kids who were a part of the Building Champions training program. As volunteers, they always wanted to give kids a platform, to grow in the field. “Mawlana Hazar Imam loves sports and wants our young leaders to come together and build their own tenacious units to compete with the world outside, beyond our community. Regional Unity Championship is the first ever tournament that gave our juniors, along with the grownups, a chance to evolve and function their best on the field.”
The competition began on a grand scale with all Jamati leaders being present along with their proficient players. During the initiation of the program, the Western India Chairman Mr Nurali Rayani said, “The regional tournament for the three sports are back after a gap of many years bringing much cheer amongst our youth and the community. Identified on the basis of popularity, it is a move to build capacity amongst our youth constituency for these sports.
Success in a major long-distance race can lift a Kenyan runner out of poverty overnight. It can also bring plenty of pitfalls, as fame and wealth often do.
ELDORET, Kenya — Ten years ago, in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, Duncan Kibet lay spread-eagle on the pavement, attempting to process the record-setting run he had just completed and how it was about to change his life.
When he toed the starting line of the 29th Rotterdam Marathon that morning, April 5, 2009, he had been earning a living as an elite athlete for nearly a decade. But with a marathon personal best of only 2 hours 7 minutes 53 seconds, he was hardly a household name in Kenya, home to the world’s greatest concentration of distance running talent. Then he ran a 2:04:27, nearly three and a half minutes faster, making him Kenya’s national record holder and the second fastest marathoner in history.
The win was worth big money for Kibet, who, like most of his running peers, had grown up poor. He earned $180,000, including his appearance fee. Nike would soon sign him to a contract worth $100,000. In Kenya, where the cost of living is low, a payday like that was supposed to set him up for life. But it rarely works out that way, and it didn’t for Kibet.
He bought a house for his mother in Eldoret, the de facto Kenyan running capital, and a Toyota Hilux truck. There were school fees for various relatives and contributions to a home for orphans. He bought Italian suits and had baseball caps and shirts shipped from the United States.
A groin injury kept him from finishing marathons in Berlin and London. His fitness waned, and two years after his Rotterdam triumph, he was essentially broke and out of work.
Thousands of members of the Jamats of the United Kingdom, France, and Portugal jurisdictions came together at the University of Nottingham to Meet, Compete and Unite at the European Sports Festival 2019. Participants, spectators, and volunteers took part in a range of sports, daytime activities, and entertainment events spread across the Easter weekend.
European Jamat comes together to meet, compete, and unite
During a weekend filled with sunshine, smiles, and sports at the University of Nottingham, thousands of members of the Jamat from 15 countries joined together in a celebration of diversity, service, and health and wellbeing at the European Sports Festival 2019.
Following the success of previous Sports Festivals dating all the way back to the 1980s, this year’s European Sports Festival (ESF) reached new heights. Participants, spectators, and volunteers travelled from all over Europe and across the UK to meet, compete, and unite. Over 1,600 participants competed in over 40 sporting categories including football, netball, badminton, swimming, golf, basketball, tennis, and volleyball. Parasport sessions such as sitting throwball, wheelchair basketball, and walking football, as well as non-competitive sports such as rock climbing and Kabaddi were open to all.
One of the legacies of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees includes international programmes such as the Jubilee Games, Jubilee Arts, and the Global Encounters camps. These initiatives are designed to bring the community together at an international scale, strengthening the spirit of One Jamat. ESF 2019 represented a springboard that spoke to this vision.
Several Jamati institutions collaborated to offer a variety of health and active living workshops and presentations on topics such as building resilience in our youth and emotional wellbeing, as well as activities such as yoga and Tai Chi. The Aga Khan Health Board also offered diabetes screenings and successfully ran a bone marrow registration drive. Other highlights included a collaboration between i-CERV and the Salvation Army to pack gift bags for the homeless, and the Aga Khan Foundation’s 10K Run, 5K Walk and 1K Fun-Run, which raised funds to help build resilience against climate change in Northern Afghanistan.
Members of the Jamat from European countries attended in strong numbers, became an integral part of both the planning and execution of ESF 2019, and made up part of the youngest ever ESF organising team. The diversity of the Jamat was further celebrated at a multicultural party on Sunday, where all were invited to dress in traditional attire and enjoy a mix of Bollywood, Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and European favourites. The weekend also included a comedy cabaret night and a performance from the renowned Indian recording artist Shadab Faridi, who stirred the senses and got the audience on their feet.
The weekend-long event illustrated the professionalism and commitment of all those who served in a voluntary capacity across a number of areas, from sports management and daytime activities, to evening entertainment, first-aid, catering, and more. All those who served before and during the event became a part of the volunteer legacy during a special year — the centenary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps.
In recognition of all those who served, Al-karim Nathoo, chairman of the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board in the UK said, “The European Sports Festival showcased the commitment, hard work, and dedication of hundreds of volunteers, without whom ESF simply would not have been possible. A special note of gratitude goes to all the volunteers who gave their time and skills to make ESF 2019 a truly momentous event.”
As the sun began to set on Easter Sunday in Nottingham, the European Sports Festival Closing Ceremony took place, marking the end to a family weekend where members of the Jamat of all ages and abilities had an opportunity to participate in sport, appreciate the importance of good health and active living, feel a sense of belonging, and be inspired to serve.
It is not the “male sex hormone,” nor is it the key to athletic performance. Why do we insist otherwise?
For a century, talk about testosterone as the “male hormone” has woven folklore into science, so that supposedly objective claims seemingly validate cultural beliefs about the structure of masculinity and the “natural” relationship between women and men.
Labeling testosterone the male sex hormone suggests that it is restricted to men and is alien to women’s bodies, and obfuscates the fact that women also produce and require testosterone as part of healthy functioning. Even the earliest hormone researchers understood that testosterone has wide-ranging effects on metabolism, liver function, bones, muscle, skin and the brain in both sexes.
But because early hormone researchers were fixated on sexual anatomy and reproduction, they gave short shrift to testosterone’s myriad effects, treating it as both oddly narrow — that it is about things men have more of — and overwhelmingly powerful.
Of course, it’s one thing for myths to persist in the public imagination. But what has puzzled us in nearly a decade of research is how these ideas have gained so much traction among the organizations that regulate sports, when the evidence needed to support them is largely absent or contradictory.
Often we take our health for granted and fail to invest in keeping our body healthy. To achieve our full potential, it is essential that we have a healthy and balanced diet, adequate sleep and exercise as regularly. The Ismaili Centre Dubai has launched many initiatives, which encourage members to exercise regularly.
One such initiative is Al Ahdaf - an annual football tournament. Now in it’s 6th Year. This years tournament drew a record 150 young men and women ranging from age 13-18, and 20 teams from across the UAE. Spectators chanting, “Dream, Believe and Reach the Sky” brought back memories of the Jubilee Games. The record number of both paricipants and spectators reflects an increased awareness of a healthy lifestyle.
The 2019 tournament saw 150 members in total Kamil Aziz who played a vital role in the organisation of this years event noted that whilst there were many organisational challenges such as the location of pitch, food and beverage arrangements and transportation the youth and sports portfolio succeeded in producing a hugely successful event. Tawfiq Hemnani, a keen footballer, commented that…. "Adhaf helped me find a community of people who were also interested and passionate about sport and with whom I now play regularly…" a sentiment reflected by many other participants.
Other initiatives which have been pursued by the Ismaili Centre Dubai include the UPL- a month long annual cricket tournament, Zumba and yoga sessions The Centre is also equipped with a games and recreational room where members of all ages can enjoy table tennis, foosball, carom, and chess providing a range of activities designed to provide mental as well as physical exercise.
The Jubilee Games held in Dubai in 2016 marked a milestone in highlighting the sporting abilities of members of the community. The event saw athletes from 20 countries compete in 12 sports. Shafaq Naeem - the youngest female participant in the Jubilee Games commented…. "It was all very new for me and to be honest even a little intimidating, however, the team was extremely supportive and encouraging." Shafaq now trains to play handball monthly and hopes to teach the sport to younger members of the community.
His Highness the Aga Khan often emphasises that good health is fundamental to a good quality of life. Initiatives such as Al Ahdaf, UPL, yoga and table tennis all help to highlight the importance of prioritising health.
One Tournament, One Jamat: Midwest Ismaili Games 2019
“Having team members from different Jamatkhanas and ages allowed me to learn from and interact with people that I usually wouldn’t,” said Arisha Keshwani, an athlete playing co-ed volleyball for the first time. This year’s tournament was especially unique for the diversity among the athletes, who ranged in age from 7 to 65, and experienced or novice. Similar to last year’s format, volleyball was offered as individual registrations so athletes of all skill levels and age groups could play together.
Badminton, basketball, chess, table tennis, throwball, and volleyball were a part of the tournament, featuring 300 participants at the Libertyville Sports Complex in Libertyville, Illinois. Organized by the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for Midwestern US, this was a tournament to qualify for the National Sports Tournament and had record participation, competitive and exciting events, and incredible support from volunteers.
While there were many successes from this year’s tournament, there was one common theme throughout the tournament—unity. Sara Ali, a badminton athlete, explains, “It was great to see athletes motivate each other and the supportive atmosphere it created in the community.”
It’s fitness time, thought Azeem Panjwani, a young entrepreneur of Nanded. The month was March, a busy month as it was year ending. Life had become routine- business, jamatkhana and home.
Azeem felt a restlessness, an emptiness and a need to keep fit. Hazar Imam’s farmans’ on health did seep into the subconscious and he began discussing this need to be healthy with his doctor friends. They suggested cycling and Azeem took up and embraced this activity in its entirety. His first proud achievement was when he completed a 150 km BRM race. This motivated him to do a 200 km and then a 300 km race. This 300 km Nagpur race increased not only his stamina but also his confidence. The boost given by his peers and friends motivated him to participate in the Nanded Nizamabad 400 km race. Azeem slacked on his practice at the birth of his child Shanaya and to his peril got a lot of cramps and found he could not complete this race. This lesson taught him the importance of continuity, that success needs perseverance and continuous training. It’s about dedication, practice and stamina.
For some time, Azeem felt demotivated but Azeem he was determined he could do it so he restarted the practice “no matter what” a quote he always said to himself “I will do it.”
He started practicing and this time the aim was 600 kms Nanded-Hyderabad-Nanded. The match was a tough one, as weather conditions were not conducive to cycling. Downpour and darkness were his companions to Hyderabad. He drove back to Nanded. He kept calm, worked hard and completed his cycle in 36 hours, lower than the assigned 40 hours. He participated in the Manali-Leh-Ladakh race that was 650 kms, followed by the Goa-Kanyakumari race and the Kanyakumari to vizag Route with his team. He was honoured with an award by Sir Hitendra Mahajan (cyclist who represented India in Race across America with his brother).
In June 2018, his cup of happiness was filled to the brim. Azeem was appointed an officer in Race across America from India.
If you ask him his reason for cycling Azeem would reply
“I don’t ride my cycle to win any races nor do I ride to escape this world. l ride to find peace with myself, I ride to feel free and I ride to feel strong.” I just ride ............
Hyderabad Cyclist, Aman Punjani, an alumnus of the Aga Khan Academy, also pursed incessantly his dream of becoming a cyclist par excellence!
His dedication and hard worked brought him rich dividends as he bagged two gold medals, in the under 23- 40 Km Individual time Trial and 100 Km Mass Start Events. At the 23rd National Road Cycling Championship, Aman has become the first cyclist from the state to have achieved this rare feat in the last quarter of a century.
Aman took his cycling passion to another level with cycling being the topic for his IM MYP Personal Project. He began with writing a book for triathletes. His interest in the sport peaked in no time and he was seen waking up at the crack of dawn for practise in the school track and then on the highways of Hyderabad.
Currently he trains every day covering a whooping 500 kilometres per week. It’s his passion that takes Aman to a higher level of intellectual appreciation of the sport.
Well done Azeem and Aman!
Hard work and practice definitely brings dividends!!
On May 14, Sirbaz Khan became the first Pakistani climber to summit Mount Lhotse in Nepal without the use of supplementary oxygen. Lhotse is the world’s fourth highest mountain at 8,516 meters, after Mount Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga. This short video recounts his journey so far; one of aspiration, joy, struggle, and hope.
Thirty-year old Sirbaz Khan hails from Aliabad, Hunza, and started his mountaineering career in 2016. As part of an international expedition in 2017, he climbed Nanga Parbat, also known as Killer Mountain (8,124m), successfully reaching the summit on 2nd October 2017. He has been associated with the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board (AKYSB) for Hunza for 10 years and currently serves as a master trainer for climbing and mountaineering.
Recalling his journey, Sirbaz said, “When I was six, I remember; I used to go out to the mountains with my late uncle to graze our cattle. I was fascinated and mesmerised by the breathtaking birds-eye view of my hometown from the grazing area. I asked myself how beautiful it would be to be on the top of the mountain and see the other side of the world. As time went by, it became a routine for me, as it is our tradition to graze cattle in the winters. I started going to the mountains with my friends taking our cattle with us. Whenever I go out into the mountains it gives me a spiritual calmness,” he recalled.
Other renowned Ismaili mountaineers include Nazir Sabir, the first Pakistani mountaineer to summit Mount Everest, Ashraf Aman, the first Pakistani to summit K2, and Mirza Ali and Samina Baig, the only siblings to scale The Seven Summits – the highest mountains of each of the seven continents.
The Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for Pakistan (AKYSBP) has launched the first AKYSB Football Club in Pakistan. This is among the various other clubs including Cycling, Volleyball, Winter Sports and Blind Cricket that have been initiated by AKYSBP since 2018. The objective of initiating the various sports clubs is to give a platform to the talent youth in the Jamat in professional sports and to excel at the national and international level.
Apart from Cricket and Volleyball, Football is among the top three sport of interest of the Jamati youth in Pakistan. A number of male and female Jamati young football players are registered with various professional clubs mainly in the urban centres and more than 10 women Jamati players are in the Pakistan National Football Team.
The AKYSBP has organized the first Football Club Championship for the Jamati youth [male and female] in the Jamat from the local level. Around 40 local clubs will compete in eight regions to secure place in the AKYSBP finale, which will be held in Islamabad in June 2019. The winning team and other prominent players will be selected to form the National AKYSBP Football Club [male and females] which will compete in the Division B championship of Pakistan Football Federation at the mainstream level.
AKYSBP Chairman, Shamez Mukhi mentioned, “This is the first of its kind club championship in the Jamat that will allow our elite players from the grassroots level to showcase their talent at the national level and hopefully get selected by the Pakistan Football Federation to be a part of the national team”. “Through this initiative we will InshaAllah see a football culture throughout the country engaging a large number of children, adolescents and adults to participate in football coaching and competitions”, he added.
The AKYSBP Football Club is registered with the Pakistan Football Federation while AKYSB Cycling, Volleyball, Winter Sports and Blind Cricket clubs are registered with the respective provincial associations in Sindh, Punjab, Islamabad and Gilgit Baltistan.
On this occasion, Aliza Sabir commented “I participated in the Jubilee Games in Dubai in 2016 in which Team Pakistan won Silver Medal. I am looking forward to participate in the AKYSB Club Championship, which is an excellent opportunity for all football players”.
By Victor Oladokun, Director of Communication and External Relations at the African Development Bank.
At the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the visual imagery of almost empty stadiums is a powerful narrative. But not the kind that African sports, African football, or corporate sponsors deserve.
The empty seat syndrome in suggests that football fans are voting with their feet, or better still with their backsides. Fans are choosing not to watch live football events, and instead are opting in increasing numbers for the ‘intimacy’ of their crystal clear digital flat TV screens, or not all.
Before Egypt’s stunning 0-1 loss to South Africa in the round of 16, the host country was the only team able to attract 70,000 fans. Other than when Mo Salah and the Pharaohs have been on the field, most stadia across Egypt have at best attracted an average of 5,000 to 7,000 fans.
Official broadcast camera crews have done a creative job minimizing the visual gaps of empty seats. But wide camera angles reveal the obvious … a lack of attendance and public enthusiasm, in spite of the presence of some of the biggest names in world football on the field.
Many a system has been used to separate winners and losers in sporting events where a draw is unpalatable
THE NERVES of myriad sports-lovers were shredded last weekend. After almost five hours of tennis, Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat Roger Federer of Switzerland in a fifth-set tiebreak at Wimbledon. Ten miles away, at Lord’s, England beat New Zealand to win the Cricket World Cup by a ridiculously narrow margin. Tied after 50 six-ball overs, the sides played out a final “super over”, which was again tied. But that was sufficient for England to emerge triumphant, since they had hit the ball to the boundary more times than New Zealand during the course of the day. Without such tiebreak measures, cricket fans might have been left with no clear winner; Messrs Djokovic and Federer might still be playing.
Tiebreaks in sport deliver a victor in situations where rivals have not been separated by conventional means. Sometimes—think league matches in football—a draw is considered acceptable. At other times—joint World Cup winners, anyone?–such a result just will not do. Only 17% of rugby fans were satisfied after the British and Irish Lions’ three tests against New Zealand in 2017 failed to produce an overall winner, according to a poll by Sky Sports. Many of the players were keen to play on and get a result, too. As the New Zealand rugby coach, Steve Hansen, put it: “We've ended up with one hand on the trophy each, which is a bit like kissing your sister.”
Tiebreaks come in all manner of forms, but invariably differ from normal gameplay. In grand-slam tennis, the tiebreak—usually triggered when a set reaches six games all—was first introduced at the US Open in 1970. At Wimbledon the previous year, Pancho Gonzalez and Charlie Pasarell had slogged it out for five hours in their first-round tie. Until recently most grand-slam competitions eschewed tiebreaks in the final set, but in this year’s tournament Wimbledon adopted them when scores reached 12-12, in order to ensure faster, more television-friendly finishes. (Even so, Sunday’s match between Messrs Federer and Djokovic was still the longest singles final in the tournament’s history.)
Tiebreaks in cricket are more recent. Test matches still end in draws, to the mystification of non-aficionados. “Bowl-outs”, when bowlers try to hit the stumps at the other end of the pitch, were introduced to decide shorter forms of the game in 1991. But these only reward a team’s bowling prowess, not its batting or fielding. And so the “super over”, in which each team faces six extra balls, has become the tiebreak of choice in recent years for certain 50- and 20-over matches.
England won the cricket World Cup this year because they scored 26 boundaries to New Zealand’s 17, irking those who see no particular virtue in boundary-hitting. But many sports have stories of arbitrary tiebreakers. Turkey qualified for the football World Cup in 1954 when a blindfolded teenage boy drew its name from a bag after its play-off match against Spain had resulted in a draw. (Since the 1970s, penalty shoot-outs have provided a fairer result.) In American football the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl of 2017 in controversial circumstances, after the flip of a coin had given them the advantage of first possession of the ball in overtime.
After this weekend’s results, some pundits have suggested shared titles may be more sporting. Tiebreaks, after all, often fail to reflect competitors’ performances during the whole game, or indeed to reward the skills for which they are chosen. Ten years ago one of Cardiff’s hulking forwards, more used to pushing and shoving, failed to kick the ball between the posts during rugby’s own version of a penalty shoot-out, and thus lost his team an important European game. Tiebreaks will continue to infuriate sports fans who believe they deny teams a well-earned victory, or who believe in the honourable draw, or who resent seeing one player forced to take responsibility for an overall result. But many organisers prefer a clear result to a dead heat. This week, at least, England cricket fans will be in agreement.
Cricket, Corruption and the World Cup
BY ISMAILIMAIL POSTED ON JULY 22, 2019
Join Omar Shahid Hamid, author of The Fix, at the Sixth Sense Forum on 23 July 2019 at 4:00 pm at the Aga Khan University Auditorium in Karachi where he will discuss the issue of corruption in sport, specifically cricket, by going over the history of match fixing allegations in cricket, and how such allegations have changed our modern perceptions of a ‘gentleman’s sport’. He will also look at why these allegations seem to persist, and why South Asian players in particular seem to be more susceptible to getting involved in such activities, drawing upon various aspects of the topic as per his research for his recently released novel, “The Fix”.
About the Speaker – Omar Shahid Hamid
As part of the Karachi Police’s Counter Terrorism department, Omar Shahid Hamid has survived being ambushed by gangsters, implicated by colleagues in a false case, and, as CID chief, barely escaped the bombing of his office by the Pakistani Taliban. In 2011, following an attack on his offices by the Pakistani Taliban, he took a five-year sabbatical to write books and worked as a political risk consultant. In 2016, Omar returned to active duty as a Counter Terrorism Officer. He has been widely quoted and regularly featured in several publications including The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Times, Le Monde, Reuters, CNN and BBC. His first novel, The Prisoner (2013), was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 and is now being adapted for a feature film. His second novel The Spinner’s Tale (2015) won the 2016 Karachi Literature Festival Prize. He received the award again for his third novel The Party Worker (2017) at the Karachi literature festival in 2018 which is now being adapted for a Netflix series
United States Ismaili Games 2019 “Together We Win”
The Ismaili Council for the United States, in conjunction with Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for the United States, is excited to host the United States Ismaili Games 2019.
The games will be held over two weekends in Texas during November. They will host a variety of sports featuring junior categories for the very first time, along with the adult categories.
Dallas, TX. November 21st - November 24th, 2019.
All Other Sports
Austin, TX November 28th - December 1st, 2019.
The games hope to bring together the United States Jamat, of all generations, through sports, to showcase athletic excellence and cultural awareness in the true spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, and to promote unity and fair play. The games will also encourage the development of athletic skills, healthy lifestyles, friendly competition, and provide a platform to engage the Jamat involuntary and leadership activities through sports.
Athletes from across the country who have qualified through their regional tournaments will compete in a variety of sports. The games will also provide family-friendly activities for the entire Jamat to participate in. This year will truly be a celebration of the journey we have experienced through various milestones leading to the legacy of games —As we come together as One Jamat and hope that “Together We Win.”
The Aga Khan Social Welfare Board (AKSWB) for Central Region and the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board (AKYSB), in collaboration with Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP), organised an “Elderly and Differently-abled Olympics 2019” over the course of two days at the Punjab National Stadium in Lahore. The event aimed to provide a platform for elderly and differently-abled individuals to participate in sports, recreation, leisure and social activities. This event created an inclusive environment as well as the awareness of the importance of sports for a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, it helped enhance participant’s skills for inclusion in mainstream activities at multiple levels.
The first day commenced with Body-Mass Index (BMI) screening of the athletes before departing for the stadium. A torch ceremony to signify the initiation of the Olympic games was held which was attended by local, regional and institutional leadership. AKYSB conducted both indoor and outdoor games in different categories for elderly and differently-abled adolescents such as sprints, walks, spoon races, table tennis, carrom board, etc. After an exuberant day, a cultural night for the athletes was hosted by the Lahore local council at the community centre where SOP notables and local and regional leadership attended. All attendees enjoyed the music, dancing and singing performances by specially-abled members and senior citizens. Appreciation letters and certificates were also awarded to the participants.
The next day, SOP conducted all outdoor games including sprint races and football for differently-abled adolescents. Afterwards, indoor games were conducted in the gymnasium including badminton. The closing ceremony began in the early afternoon with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran followed by the Ismaili and SOP anthems of Pakistan. The ceremony was graced by President, Ismaili Council for Central Region, Chairman AKYSBP, Vice President SOP, and other notables. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between AKSWB Central Region and SOP for a six-month activity calendar for differently-abled children in order to guide them towards participation at the international Olympics. Conclusively, guests of honour and chief guests shared their views and distributed certificates, medals and shields amidst the winners.
The event brought happiness and delight to all participants and their families while creating a sense of inclusion between the participants and the community. A mother from Rawalpindi with a differently-abled son expressed her views quoting, “These are healthy events where special children feel secure and empowered, otherwise they tend to get neglected. Even parents feel reluctant to discuss their differently-abled sons and daughters. Consequently, the children become side-lined. Such events should continue in the future and must be conducted more frequently at the local and/or regional level. Through such events, as I believe, parents will not only get encouragement to help improve their children’s outlook but also overcome their own hesitation.”
Fostering an embracive environment through sports, recreation, leisure and social activities for elderly and differently-abled individuals, the event not only created an understanding of brotherhood between participants, it also encouraged inclusivity amongst different communities. The key theme highlighted at the Elderly and Differently-Abled Olympics 2019 was the importance of sports for a healthy lifestyle. This, in turn, constructed a path to enhance participant’s skills for inclusion in mainstream activities at the institutional and international level.
Athletes and spectators gather in Austin to continue the 2019 United States Ismaili Games
Following the success of Cricket last weekend in Dallas, over 1,200 athletes poured into Austin from around the country on Thanksgiving Day to continue the United States Ismaili Games (USIG).
From the minute athletes stepped into Austin, they could sense the excitement that pervaded the city stemming from the Games.
“I have never been around this many Ismaili athletes at a sporting event before,” shared 14-year old table tennis athlete Arman Hudda from the West region: “It shows just how talented our community is. As Mawlana Hazar Imam has said, sports can connect us, and I feel like USIG will connect all athletes from around the country.”
On the first night of USIG, athletes, volunteers, friends and families gathered at the Round Rock Sports Complex to check-in and get an opportunity to meet each other.
Even though athletes were away from their traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, they did not miss an opportunity to give back. Following check-in, athletes and guests joined I-CERV (Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering) to help pack hygiene kits to pass out to the homeless in the city. The community partnered with Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit with the mission to prevent and end homelessness for people in Greater Austin, to ensure the kits were distributed to those in need.
“It is very important for me as a person, and our community, to give back to those who are not in the same position as I am,” said USIG volunteer Anica Ali. She added, “For people to take their time out to think about others and help them is a beautiful thing. I enjoyed participating with my brothers and sisters as we volunteered our time towards a common goal.”
To officially kick-off the games, the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board (AKYSB) hosted an official opening ceremony. The Austin Boys Scouts led the flag ceremony, followed by representatives of each region carrying banners signed by local Jamati members.
As a homage to a tradition established at the 2016 Jubilee Games, a Unity Torch was presented by each region, symbolizing teamwork, togetherness, and the concept of One Jamat. Additionally, national AKYSB Chairman Sean Hassan, and Honorary Secretary Nashila Somani Ladha unveiled the Legacy Trophy, an additional accolade granted to the region with the highest number of medals won from the games.They urged the athletes to embody the theme of the games, “Together We Win,” and support each other throughout the weekend, on and off the field.
The night ended with a celebratory Thanksgiving feast. Athletes and guests were treated to delicious turkey, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy and tasty desserts.
The games kicked off on the next day at each of the six sites across Austin, with athletes competing in nine different team sports and eight individual sports. Spectators and guests cheered on the athletes while also participating in various workshops and activities happening throughout the course of the weekend, including dancing and photography workshops, yoga, and bubble soccer.
Russia’s supposedly stiff penalty for doping is a ban in name only
Most of the country’s athletes will still be able to compete, sometimes under their national flag
TO SPORTS FANS who are vaguely familiar with the saga of Russia’s state-sponsored doping, but who have not paid attention to every twist since the scheme was uncovered in 2014, the latest episode probably seems decisive. And for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s sports-mad president, it is embarrassing and politically damaging. On December 9th the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited Russia from major sporting events for four years. The ban will apply to next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing and to that year’s edition of the men’s football World Cup, to be held in Qatar.
WADA’s latest sanction follows its discovery that Russian officials had given it doctored computer files in January. These documents were meant to amount to a full confession of past Russian misdeeds, giving details of every athlete who had been involved in the doping scheme. According to WADA’s investigators, this had implicated over 1,000 athletes and was directed by government ministers, among others. Instead Russia seems to have added insult to injury. A recent report by the agency, seen by the New York Times, reveals that testers in Moscow had fiddled with their records again in late 2018 or early 2019. The documents included fake messages the testers sent between themselves, in an attempt to cover their tracks, and excluded more than 15,000 files containing the “most relevant anti-doping data”. Faced with stark evidence that Russian testers were continuing their cover-up, WADA had little choice but to issue an unprecedented penalty.
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