Hani Bisharat is still one of Jordan’s best known names in international sporting circles.
The charismatic 57-year-old has travelled the world under the Jordanian flag, both as a top equestrian rider and as the mentor for his son Ibrahim, a three-time Olympian.
But he could have gone down a different road, literally, if he had endured with his teenage fervor for cars.
“I entered professional equestrian late because I started off as a rally driver and I won one of the national rallies so I wasn’t too bad,” he recalled. “But I also had a passion for horses so it persuaded me to quit rallying and switch full time to equestrian. It was the right thing to do as I started to achieve titles and medals when I was in my twenties.”
His journey over the last 40 years has seen him compete across the world. Titles have been won on a local, Arab and world level and while he is still competing and captains the national side, his time is also dedicated to supporting Ibrahim who has become a well known and respected rider.
“He has done the family and Jordan proud over the years,” he said. “He has dedicated himself to the sport and is doing very well at competition across the world and hopefully he will qualify for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.”
Should he reach the sun-kissed shores of Brazil next summer, Ibrahim would become the most successful Jordanian Olympian and join an elite club of sportsmen and women to have competed at four Games.
His previous showing came in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Despite his own illustrious career, Hani views a particular achievement of his son’s as the highlight.
“A real highlight was when I watched Ibrahim win the Al Basel Championship held in Damascus. It was a major international event and really confirmed his arrival on the fiercely competitive world of equestrian.”
His lowest point came at the World Championships held in Kentucky, USA, when he felt everything was in place to challenge but his horse didn’t pass the medical tests, leaving him watching from the sidelines.
Hani recognises the important role that the Royal Family has played in developing the sport, from His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Al Hussein as President of the Jordan Olympic Committee to HRH Princess Alia Bint Al Hussein, President of the Jordan Equestrian Federation.
He also acknowledges the fantastic support from His Majesty King Abdullah II for all sport in Jordan and had a particular word of thanks for HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a prominent global figure in equestrian circles.
“HRH Princess Haya was a rider and a competitor so she knows what is needed to support the sport and its athletes,” said Hani.
A father of two children Hani, like all successful sportsmen should, said that his wife is the backbone to the family’s success and despite decades in the sport under his belt, he is still looking forward to the future.
“I want to do what I can to improve the sport here in Jordan,” he said. “Previously it was difficult to find new riders because of a lack of facilities and opportunities but it is much better now, so we are looking for the next generation of competitors.
“For the sport to develop we must keep improving with more riders, quality trainers and referees and officials.”
Away from the world of horses, Hani says he relaxes by listening to George Wassouf and enjoys eating Maqloubeh.
Over the coming months he will be following his son’s Olympic qualification bid, mostly in Europe, and Jordan will be hoping that the Bisharat name will be flying the Kingdom’s flag high in South America during the summer of 2016.