Laura feels she was kind of average at Sports growing up, and although she’d won her first swimming competition at 15, she would still say «I’m kinda OK, I guess». She was kind of OK, until she got to her third year at the American University of Beirut.
«The first two years of Architecture school are hell! You’ve barely time to train once a week, but I didn’t want to give up.»
Laura had her sights set on the National Championship in Swimming of 2012, so she did an intensive summer training camp, and got hooked on running as well. «They complete each other, I feel». That same year she did the October Nike Fun Run, just for the ‘fun of it’. Laura hadn’t been training for running. Laura did her run. Very relaxed, a matter of fact. She even stopped along the way to drink water, and tie her laces.
Laura reaches the Finish lines, and goes home. When she gets home, she got frantic phone calls: ‘where are you? You came in third!’ Laura was very dubious about that result: «My run was too chill to finish third. I mean I wasn’t pushing myself, or anything like that.» So Laura starts real track and field training at AUB, mainly for the upcoming Beirut Marathon 10K, in November of that year. Alain Bejjani, the track and field coach there, becomes her coach and together with Adel Yamout, her swimming coach, they help her organize her overloaded architecture student life.
Laura runs the 10K, very relaxed as usual, and goes home as usual. And some time later, the phone rings, again. Laura came first of all University students. As usual, Laura’s very dubious. So, now Laura’s on a roll; she’s taking part all major inter-University meetings, and getting results, mostly silver or gold, or both for swimming and running: Istanbul, Belgium, Serbia, Rome. This month she’s travelling to Valencia, Spain, for a meeting in swimming, and in July she’s bound for the Universiadea, the University Olympics, in South Korea.
«Make time for the things you want to do! That’d be my message to the Youth who want to take up Sports. That being said, I realize that studying at AUB helped me get organized, more than I would have done elsewhere», Laura admits.
Laura’s graduating this year in Architecture. Last month she took part in the Duathlon, run, bike, run, and made the podium. She’s obviously headed for April’s Triathlon, and maybe some day, «the IronMan?» she ponders. Laura doesn’t real sponsors, she doesn’t even have her own bike yet. «I’ve got cool friends, though, helping me a lot». Laura borrows a friend’s bike, and also insisted on mentioning Ramy Nachar, a young triathlete friend, who’s been very supportive with pointers, and advice about training for the triathlon.
I asked Laura about her gear, and it seems she switched from Nike Pegasus to the Asics Kayano 21. I really hope she finds real sponsors, and hope to shoot her while she’s doing the IronMan in the coming years. Laura will also be running the Beirut Marathon’s Women’s Race, beginning of June, in Byblos. Needless to say her mom is so proud of her, and of her younger brother and sister; swimmers too. It has probably something to do with Marwan Matar, when as kids, they’d go swimming at Les Creneaux.
As for what accounts for Laura’s running, well she still recalls when at age 3 she’d trot behind her dad as he jogged on the Corniche. I guess when you start young and you don’t give up, then things come easy when the time is right, which is why Laura was one of the cool kids’ coaches this year’s Beirut Marathon Youth Race.