By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 9 August 2015:
Sixteen year old Daniah Hagul proudly represented Libya as the only female at the 16th . . .[restrict]FINA World Swimming Championships 2015 in Kazan, Russia last week competing in the 100m and the 50m breaststroke events.
Two other Libyans, Ahmad Attellesey and Adel El-Fakir also represented Libya at the championship.
Libya Herald interviewed young Daniah after her first major international swimming championship in which she achieved a personal best time in the 100m breaststroke event.
LH: When and where did you start swimming?
Daniah: ‘‘I learnt to swim at the age of four. My first experience of swimming wasn’t a pleasant one, when, to my displeasure, my swimming instructor pushed me in the pool. Although at the time it was upsetting, I soon learnt to swim well and grew to love the sport. I started swimming competitively in 2012 when I was 13 with Neptunes Water Polo & Swimming Club of St Julians, Malta’’.
Who were your influences?
Daniah: ‘‘I remember watching the 2012 London Olympics at my grandfather’s farm in Azzahra, Libya where we used to spend all our summer holidays. I thought it would be wonderful if I could represent Libya at the next Olympics. With the blessing and support of my family, I started working towards fulfilling that dream’’.
‘‘In 2012, I joined the Junior Squad of Neptunes WPSC in Malta, taking part in monthly time trials as well as Easter Meets and Nationals where the aim of every swimmer is to improve his/her times and achieve Personal Bests (PBs). Swimming is a sport where every fraction of a second can make a difference’’.
‘‘A year ago, I was promoted to the Top Squad where I was coached by Gail Rizzo who had represented Malta at the Olympics in 1996. Gail has been a great mentor and a source of inspiration to me’’.
‘‘In terms of famous swimmers, I really admire Rebecca Soni (USA) and watched her closely at the London 2012 Olympics’’.
‘‘I attended the 2013 Worlds Aquatic Championships in Barcelona as a spectator and it was a great experience watching swimmers from all over the world compete at such an important international event. This motivated me even further to focus on my training and give it my best to hopefully compete internationally one day’’.
LH: Have you won swimming competitions before?
Daniah: ‘‘Since I joined Neptunes, I have taken part in the Easter Meets and the Nationals in Malta where I have won many medals. During the most recent Nationals (July 2015) I won gold, silver and bronze medals in breaststroke events. Although I enjoy swimming all the strokes, my favourite is the breaststroke. At the FINA World Championships 2015 in Kazan, Russia, I have just competed in the 100m and the 50m breaststroke events’’.
‘‘Prior to arriving in Kazan, I attended a training camp in Lanzarote, Canary Islands where I was coached by Robin Brew who has, over the years, prepared several world class swimmers and he himself had represented Great Britain in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles’’.
‘‘I have also competed at the Berlin Meets in 2013 and 2014 with Neptunes WPSC’’.
LH: How did you qualify for the World Championship event in Kazan?
Daniah: ‘‘I entered the Worlds in Kazan to represent Libya, on the basis of universality. However, having successfully competed in the 100m breaststroke on 3rd August, will, hopefully, pave the way for me to represent Libya at the Olympics in Rio next year’’.
‘‘Competing at the World’s, my first major international swimming championship has been such an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. All things considered, I did manage to successfully compete in both my races and even improved my previous timing achieving a new PB in the 100m breaststroke event’’.
LH: Have you received any support from the Libyan authorities?
Daniah: ‘‘The Libyan Swimming Federation (LSF) has been very supportive of myself and the 2 other Libya swimmers, Ahmad Attellesey and Adel El-Fakir, also representing Libya at Worlds. In fact, two senior officials of the LSF were in Kazan observing the Libyan swimming team’s training sessions and, of course attending all the events we were competing in’’.
LH: Do you have ambitions to carry on and become a top swimmer?
Daniah: ‘‘Yes. My ultimate dream is to represent Libya at the Rio Olympics. I know that the road to Rio will not be an easy one, but I will rise to the challenge with a lot of hard work and determination as well as the guidance and support of my new coach Robin Brew’’.
LH: Who is with you in Kazan, Russia?
Daniah: ‘‘My parents are here with me in Kazan. They have been extremely supportive from day one, ferrying me to and from training, taking me to camps and being there at all my races’’.
‘’Ahmad, Adel and myself are being coached by Mr Sven-Bertil Mattsson, a Swedish coach with 45 years experience and an impressive track record in preparing swimmers for international competitions, who has kindly given up his time to help the Libyan swimmers’’.
‘’I feel so honoured and privileged to be able to participate in such a prestigious event. Together with my 2 fellow Libyan swimmers, I am so proud to be flying the Libyan flag at Worlds’’.
‘’I have received so much encouragement from Libyans all over the world, it’s so heartening. I truly hope my participation at international events will encourage other Libyans, especially girls, to take up competitive swimming’’. [/restrict]