It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Nabeel Al Shweiki after being catapulted onto the world stage.
The youngster has become Jordan’s latest sporting hero after winning bronze at the World U20 Championships in Indonesia, becoming the first Jordanian to achieve a medal of any colour at this level in the sport.
Now the 18-year-old has opened up to www.joc.jo to talk about his life and next goal of becoming the No 1 karate champion in the world.
What strikes you first about the teenager is his modesty and how he is quick to share his success with those close to him, like his father and his coach.
“My father has encouraged me since I first went on a school karate camp at the age of six,” he said. “I loved it and he asked me if I wanted to continue so he took me to the Elian Club where my journey began!”
His talent was identified and by the age of 15 he had already secured his first medal on the World Cup circuit, a bronze in Greece, and he says that winning motivates him onto his next tournament.
So onto the World U20 Championships in Indonesia and that magnificent run that saw him finish with bronze.
“It wasn’t by chance,” he said. “We had planned for a long time to participate after I missed out the last time around in Spain in 2013. It was my focus to be in Indonesia to achieve a medal for Jordan and I got the job done. I’m not an athlete who seeks to participate only; I always want medals so this was an exceptional moment for me.”
Coach Mohammad Elyan shared a fascinating insight into the sort of determined person and athlete that Nabeel has become.
He said: “He never misses training, and sometimes I find him there even before me at the training centre! I told his father at the start when he first brought Nabeel to me that this young man will be a champion one day. He has a special talent.”
This appears to be just the start of a journey that the whole sporting community can be proud, and one that could lead to the biggest prize of them all in five years time.
Karate is set to be included in the timetable for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and Nabeel already has his sights on making history.
“I have two dreams which are to become world champion and also to win an Olympic medal in Tokyo,” he said. “I want to make history for Jordan and win a medal there. I hope it will be included in the Olympic programme. I will be ready if it is.”
Nabeel is already a solid role model for the next generation of fighters following him through. He knows that his achievements can inspire them too and, with 93% in his high school exams, he is living proof that sport and education can complement each other. Next up is university and a course in electrical engineering.
He gives huge credit to his father for his “support and encouragement at all times” and said one day he hopes to fight Azerbaijan World Champion, Rafael Aghayev.
But it is his grounding that makes this young man so likable. He believes that “arrogance is the champion’s grave” and that the “more I achieve, the more it makes me humble and grateful”.
He concluded by also mentioning his gratitude for the support received from the Jordan Karate Federation and the Jordan Olympic Committee.
Nabeel is a refreshing addition to the growing number of emerging world sporting talents we have in Jordan and nothing appears to be in the way of him becoming a household name for us all to be proud of.