Jessica Bumby profiles one of Leeds biggest athletic talents as he prepares for the 2012 Olympics next July
With tickets selling for thousands of pounds and the stadium over 200 miles away from home, London’s 2012 Olympic Games seem untouchable for most of us Northern folk! However, for Morley athlete Umar Hameed, the Olympic dream is very much within reach.
Umar, aged 22, is hopeful of securing a place to compete for Pakistan in the 200m sprint next year. He is currently under sponsorship from Morley-based garage Auto-Tech, giving him a much needed boost to help him in achieving his goals.
Aspiring Umar aims to be one of the best athletes in Europe, and, as currently one of the best UK athletes in his age group he right on track. He tells North Leeds – News: “My long term aim is to make major championships like the Olympics, Commonwealth games and World championships.” Umar is the current Yorkshire 200m champion and the City of Leeds 200m record holder.
The young athlete has just returned from a 200m race in Sweden which, you guessed it, he won, yet will find very little time to relax. Training for the Olympics is no sprint in the park, as Umar explains: “Training is hard, 2 times a day up to 6 days a week sometimes. It includes weights, running and jumping.”
It appears that Umar is a frontrunner not only in athletics, but also in his academic achievements, proving that brains and brawn actually can co-exist! After sixth form, the ex Woodkirk High pupil was given a scholarship at Leeds Metropolitan University where he studied Business for three years while training. He now has a scholarship at Leeds University, where he will study for a Masters in MSc International Business starting next week. Studying for a Masters while training up to 6 days per week will be no easy task, but multi-talented Umar seems to be taking it all in his (rather speedy) stride.
Years of dedication and rigorous training do not guarantee a place in the Olympics, as all athletes must win a qualifying competition for their country before they can compete. This has its problems, as Umar explains: “Even some of the best athletes in the world go to their qualifying competition and mess up, and therefore don’t get selected to go to the Olympics”.
With so much riding on his forthcoming IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) qualifier Umar is remaining realistic. He says: “My aim has always been to be successful in whatever I do. The Olympics would be nice but I am not pinning all my hopes on them. If I go it will be a bonus, but my aim is to be one of the best athletes in Europe first.” However, judging by his track record, Umar could well be rocketing his way to success on the Olympic tracks next year!