Few Jordanian athletes have made their mark on their chosen sport more than Nadin Dawani.
With three consecutive Olympics under her belt, Nadin was a natural choice to be named as chef de mission for Team Jordan to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Here she opens up to www.joc.jo about life at the very top of her sport, and provides an update on where Jordan’s preparations are at with one year to go until the greatest show on earth!
1- How excited are you about going to your fourth Olympics, this time in charge of the delegation?
I’m super excited and honored to lead the Jordanian delegation at the Rio Olympic games. Representing my country on this amazing stage was a real highlight of my career but being chef de mission will be a totally different experience. I hope that my experience will help to bring the best out of our athletes. To be honest I feel I have a huge responsibility towards my team and my country but I will be doing everything I can and using all my experience to do my best.
2- Can you tell us about your experiences at the previous Olympics? What were the highs, and the lows?
Qualifying and competing for three Olympic Games in a row were the best experiences and memorable for me. But to have been selected to carry the Jordan flag at the Opening Ceremony in London was an unforgettable experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
But there were downs as well, particularly in London when I lost my match against a Ukrainian opponent in the last 30 seconds. It was a big disappointment because I felt strong and was leading comfortably. I was very sad after that defeat.
3- How tough are the Olympics competitions compared to the World Championships? Why do you think they are different?
The word Olympics by itself says it all. You are competing against the world’s top athletes and also mixing with the very best there is from other sports as well.
4- How do you think your experience as an Olympian will benefit you as the chef de mission?
It will definitely help. I am familiar with the rules and systems and how things go. It can be quite overwhelming if you haven’t been before so my experience of Olympic Village life and the sheer scale of the event will certainly help. Last year I was the chef de mission for the Youth Olympic Games so I feel I am ready to step up.
5- How is Team Jordan shaping up for Rio? What athletes/sports do we have a chance of competing in?
The next few months are crucial in terms of teams and athletes looking to qualify. The team sports will be continuing their qualification events later this year, but it is very tough for them to make it through to the Olympics in team sports. Elsewhere we have athletes trying to qualify in Boxing, Taekwondo, Triathlon, Weightlifting, Swimming and Equestrian. I wish them all the best in their efforts.
6- Jordan is still looking for its first Olympic medal, can it be done?
The Jordan Olympic Committee is doing a great job in supporting Federations and their athletes and providing the best possible opportunities to qualify and then compete at the highest levels. It is getting harder every Olympics but I believe we can still do it. We have come very close in the past.
The making of a champion is not easy and most of all it needs the athlete to believe that he or she can do it and to be physically and psychologically ready. We’ll do whatever we can to help and support those trying to qualify and then continue that support for those that will be competing in Rio.
7- What advice would you give to someone currently trying to qualify for Rio?
To put all their efforts and strength in to be there in Rio next summer. There are huge sacrifices to be made but it is worth it.
8- What will you say to an athlete as a last message before they go out to compete at an Olympics event?
Reaching there is an achievement in itself so relax, try your best and enjoy every single moment.
9- What have you been up to since retiring from competition?
In my private life I have got married and had my first beautiful child. However I have continued to be very active with sport with the following positions:
- Board Member for the Jordan Olympic Committee
- President of the Athletes’ Committee
- Member of the Women’s Committee in the Asian Taekwondo Union (ATU)
10- Can you give an overview on your career highlights?
* Taekwondo National Team player since 2001.
* The first Jordanian player to qualify three times for the Olympic Games.
* The first Jordanian Taekwondo player to win a Gold Medal in Junior Asian Championships.
* The first female Jordanian Taekwondo player to win a Gold Medal in Senior Asian Championships.
* The first Jordanian female to win a medal in the World Cup.
* Named 2007 Sports Women of the Year at the Black Iris Sports Awards.
* Fifth at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.