Abtal

Conversations with Arab athletes on their journeys to the Paris 2024 Olympics

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Episodes

Abtal Trailer

Wednesday Jan 17, 2024

Wednesday Jan 17, 2024

Abtal is a new podcast series from The National News, hosted by sports journalist Reem Abulleil, that is dedicated to Arab athletes and their respective journeys towards the Paris 2024 Olympics.
In Arabic, the same word is used for both champions and heroes, and that is Abtal. In this series, Reem delves deep into the lives of the region's sporting heroes, focusing on the human behind the athlete, the pressures they endure and the mentality they adopt to perform and excel.
Through conversations with the athletes in this series, we get a chance to view them in a different light, one that goes beyond their results or popularity or status.
This series is produced by The National's multimedia department.Sound design and audio-engineering by Arthur Eddyson. Video production and promotions by Mahmoud Rida and Phil Green. Visual designs and artwork by Nick Donaldson and Aneesh Grigary. Doaa Farid is the executive producer. The National's head of multimedia is Enas Refaei.
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Monday Jan 29, 2024

In the first episode of Abtal, host Reem Abulleil is joined by two iconic Arab tennis players, Tunisian Ons Jabeur and Egyptian Mayar Sherif, for their first interview together.
Ons is the highest-ranked African woman and Arab player in tennis history and Mayar is the second-highest ranked Arab woman in history and the highest-ranked Egyptian tennis player ever.
The conversation features their journeys from their early days trying to make it in tennis, and how each of them has taken a completely different path to the top echelons of women’s tennis, reflecting on the key decisions they made along the way.
Ons and Mayar also share the turning points in their respective careers, the highs, the lows, the desperation that comes with trying to break through and the pressure that comes with finally doing well.
Ons opens up about her heartbreaking defeat in the 2023 Wimbledon final, while Mayar reveals what really pushed her to pursue a career in professional tennis halfway through college.
They share stories from their previous appearances at the Olympics and even quiz each other on things they’ve always wanted to learn about one another.
You can listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interview on The National News YouTube channel.
This series is produced by The National's multimedia department.Sound design and audio-engineering by Arthur Eddyson. Video production and promotions by Mahmoud Rida and Phil Green. Visual designs and artwork by Nick Donaldson and Aneesh Grigary. Doaa Farid is the executive producer. The National's head of multimedia is Enas Refaei.

Monday Feb 05, 2024

In the second episode of the Abtal podcast, host Reem Abulleil is joined by Egyptian table tennis prodigy Hana Goda.
Goda, 16, has been making waves in table tennis internationally since she was 11. She was ranked No 1 in the world in the under-15 cadets category when she was only 12.
Last year, at the senior level, she became the youngest to win the African Championship at the age of 15.
Goda is currently ranked in the world’s top 30 and is Paris-bound with team Egypt for the Olympic Games this summer.She was recently named the Best Emerging Arab Athlete at the Mohammed bin Rashid Creative Sports Awards, and has an impressive sponsorship portfolio that includes a new contract with Red Bull Egypt.
In this conversation, Goda opens up about what it is like living in the spotlight as a young teenager, how she has been dealing with the weight of expectations and what it will take for her to contend in a sport dominated by East Asians.
You can listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interview on The National News YouTube channel.This series is produced by The National's multimedia department.Sound design and audio-engineering by Arthur Eddyson. Video production and promotions by Mahmoud Rida and Phil Green. Visual designs and artwork by Nick Donaldson and Aneesh Grigary. Doaa Farid is the executive producer. The National's head of multimedia is Enas Refaei.

Monday Feb 12, 2024

In the third episode of the Abtal podcast, host Reem Abulleil is joined by Emirati showjumper Abdullah Al Marri, a popular figure on the equestrian scene in the region and beyond, and a recent individual bronze medallist and team silver medallist at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
A winner of several Grand Prix events, Al Marri was part of a group of showjumpers who made history for the UAE last year when they secured qualification for the Olympics as a team for the very first time.
In this conversation, Al Marri shares what it’s like to jump a 1.6m-high fence on top of a 600kg horse and what it takes for a rider to master the necessary cross-species communication with his animal in and out of competition.
He also explains all the unique aspects and mental challenges faced in showjumping and his experience training young riders.
You can listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interview on The National News YouTube channel.This series is produced by The National's multimedia department.Sound design and audio-engineering by Arthur Eddyson. Video production and promotions by Mahmoud Rida. Visual designs and artwork by Nick Donaldson and Aneesh Grigary. Doaa Farid is the executive producer. The National's head of multimedia is Enas Refaei.

Monday Feb 19, 2024

In the fourth episode of the Abtal podcast, host Reem Abulleil sits down with Egyptian swimming star Farida Osman.
A three-time World Championship medallist and African record holder, Osman has overcome many challenges both in and out of the pool to blaze a trail for Arab swimmers across the region.
Osman exploded on to the scene as a 16-year-old when she became Egypt’s first junior world swimming champion in 2011. She has since become one of the best sprinters in the world, shattered numerous records and participated in three Olympic Games.
Ahead of her fourth appearance at the Games, we speak to Osman about what it’s like being the face of Egyptian swimming for so long. Osman shares her experiences navigating the psychological rollercoaster of being a swimmer, from the highs of victory to the lows of self-doubt and burnout.
Osman also talks about her heartbreaking Tokyo Olympics, the brutal backlash that followed, and how she rebounded from that disappointment to get back in contender form.This episode was recorded before Osman made more history at the World Championships in Doha last week, reaching a seventh consecutive 50m butterfly final and winning her third career medal at Worlds.
Abtal will take a short break before returning in March with a fresh line-up of inspiring Arab athletes and compelling conversations.You can listen to the full conversations on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interviews on The National News YouTube channel.

Monday Mar 25, 2024

Abtal podcast series is back after a short break with a new line-up of inspiring Arab athletes and compelling conversations.
In the fifth episode, host Reem Abulleil is joined by two athletes this time, Egypt’s first medallist at a Fencing World Championship Ziad El Sissy and his wife, squash superstar Nouran Gohar.
A bronze medallist at the World Championships and a Mediterranean Games champion, El Sissy has carved a path for himself in sabre fencing that has taken him from Alexandria to Detroit, Dallas to New York, and to his current residence in Connecticut, where he shares a home with Gohar.
During the conversation, world No 3 El Sissy dives deep into his fencing journey and explains why he almost walked away from the sport after the Tokyo Olympics. He discusses the mental challenges of his sport and why he’s been able to make a leap up the rankings to establish himself among the fencing world’s elite.
Gohar, his wife, later joins the conversation. The former squash world No 1 and current No 3 shares insights into her life with El Sissy and how the couple make it work despite being two top athletes competing in different sports.
They let us know what they’ve learnt from one another, how they continue to inspire each other, and talk about a shared dream of both winning medals at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, where squash will make its long-awaited debut at the Games.
You can listen to the full conversations on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interviews on The National News YouTube channel.

Monday Apr 01, 2024

In the sixth episode of the Abtal podcast, host Reem Abulleil is joined by Egyptian distance swimmer Marwan El Kamash, who is getting ready to compete in his third Olympic Games this summer.
Since he moved to the United States more than 12 years ago to study and swim at the University of South Carolina, El Kamash has gone to extreme lengths to not only sustain, but consistently develop his career as a swimmer.
During the conversation, he talks about how he went from being a young teen in Alexandria who hated swimming, to becoming one of the best distance swimmers in the world with an immense passion for his sport that has taken him across the globe.
He also talks about his dream to make history for his country by becoming the first Egyptian to secure a place in an Olympic swimming final.
You can listen to the full conversations on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interviews on The National News YouTube channel.

Monday Apr 08, 2024

In the seventh episode of the Abtal podcast, host Reem Abulleil is joined by UAE’s first female professional cyclist, Safiya Al Sayegh.
A multiple-time national champion and a time trial bronze medallist at the Under 23 Asian Championships, Al Sayegh has made rapid strides in the sport within a very short period of time.
In 2022, she signed for Team UAE ADQ to become the first Arab woman to join a WorldTour outfit. She made her WorldTour competitive debut last year, with an impressive top-35 finish at the Tour of Chongming Island in Shanghai.
Al Sayegh has represented the UAE in two World Championships and having punched her ticket to Paris this summer, has become the first Emirati woman cyclist to qualify for the Olympics.
She discussed the challenges of juggling her cycling career with her studies, what it’s been like taking the leap towards competing among the sport’s elite, her perspective on chasing goals versus dreams and getting out of a dark hole that almost stopped her from accepting the contract with Team UAE ADQ.
Al Sayegh also talked about her pride in representing her country and religion in the world of professional cycling, and tells us what it’s like donning the hijab and competing among a predominantly European peloton.

Tuesday Apr 16, 2024

In the eighth episode of the Abtal podcast, host Reem Abulleil is joined by Moroccan surfer Ramzi Boukhiam, who is getting ready to compete in his second Olympics this summer.
Boukhiam is the first Moroccan or Arab surfer to qualify for the Championship Tour, which is the highest level of competition in the sport.
The 30-year-old from Agadir recently clinched a silver medal at the ISA World Surfing Games in Puerto Rico to secure his Olympic spot and solidify his place among the best surfers on the planet.
In this revealing conversation, Boukhiam delves deep into the highs and lows of his career, his early days in the sport, his move from Morocco to the South of France after he lost his father at the age of 12, the tough transition from juniors to the pros, and how he’s hoping to make the most of his time on the Championship Tour this season.
You can listen to the full conversations on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interviews on The National News YouTube channel.

3 days ago

The Abtal podcast is back with a fresh batch of exciting episodes, featuring three incredible Arab athletes who are on their way to the Olympics.
In this episode, host Reem Abulleil is joined by Lebanese trap shooter Ray Bassil, who is gearing up for her fourth consecutive Olympic Games this summer.
Bassil, a reigning Asian champion and former world number one, has had an illustrious 20-year career in shooting, boasting numerous World Cup and Asian Championship victories.
She was the flag-bearer for her country at the Tokyo 2020 Games and is currently on a quest to become her country's first Olympic medallist since 1980 and the first Lebanese woman to reach the Olympic podium.
In this wide-ranging conversation, 35-year-old Bassil delves into the complexities of shooting, her journey over the past two decades, the sources of her motivation, and the significance of bearing the aspirations of a nation.
You can listen to all previous episodes of Abtal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms, or watch the full interviews on The National's YouTube channel.

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