At the end of August, Maryam Yusuf Jamal won a gold medal for Bahrain in the women’s 1,500-metre race at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin
Time Out Bahrain staff
Congratulations on your success – what has the recent victory meant to you? I am very happy. I am pleased to have won this medal for myself and for Bahrain.
What does it mean to you to represent Bahrain? Bahrain is such a great country. They give athletes like me a lot of support, they are behind me 100 per cent of the time, and always so pleased when I do well. It makes me happy to be representing Bahrain on the track.
What congratulations have you received from Bahrain on your recent victory? I get lots of cards and flowers from my friends in Bahrain, and also some from the royal family. Everybody is so nice and proud of what I do.
You are from Ethiopia originally – how did you end up representing Bahrain? The opportunity to race and to represent a country came from Bahrain, and they were happy to help with my training and to give me the support I needed. Even though I do not represent Ethiopia, they all support me and are so happy to see me run. I go back there regularly to see all my family and friends.
There are stories that some athletes from African nations represent Arab countries for money. But that is not the arrangement here? I am not interested in the money aspect. Sure, it is there in the sponsorship and when I win. But what is more important to me is to race and to do well.
How much time do you spend in Bahrain? You are training a lot at altitude in Switzerland? I do come to Bahrain – I couldn’t race there, though. Not at the moment, as it is so very hot. But when I’m not training I will be in Bahrain, and the people come up to me and tell me well done. I like to go to the malls there.
We hear your husband Tariq trains you – is marriage and training separate? Yes, it’s a good arrangement. He tells me what to do and I get on with it. We get on very well, and it’s just something that works on and off the track.
How much training do you have to do at your level? What is your average day? I train a lot. This morning I did a couple of 800-metre runs, and I’ll do some 400 as well, sometimes longer. I eat three times a day – lots of pasta, fruit and water – but I also try to vary what I eat.
Representing Bahrain, an Arab country, is it true there are requirements for how you dress on the field? A little bit. I have to cover up more than some of the other girls, but it doesn’t really bother me or affect my running. When I race I’m just concentrating on the track and what I have to do, not so much on what I’m wearing.
You’re from the same region as Haile Gebrselassie [world- record-breaking marathon runner] – have you met him? I have. I met him last year. He is such a nice guy. He said he had been watching me race and how good he thought I was. It was such an honour.
Why do you think it is that a lot of quality long distance runners come from the same region as you? Because we live at high altitude, and that’s what helps. When you live in these places, your body develops in such a way that when you come down to lower altitudes you can just run a lot faster and better.
You travel around so much – where is your favourite place to race? There are a couple of places I really like. Monaco is fantastic. And I also loved Los Angeles. It meant I got to go to Hollywood, as I am a big movie fan.