It is never too late to learn something new as the JOC found out when meeting the incredible Lama Qubbaj.
Last week, the 28-year-old hit the headlines by winning gold at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships in Bangkok, an amazing achievement made even more remarkable when she revealed that she only started playing the sport aged 24!
So how on earth were four years enough to go from being a novice newcomer to the very best in the world? The JOC found out.
“I was playing basketball and shot put mainly but decided to try jiu jitsu as a way of keeping fit,” said Lama.
“I loved the sport immediately and when I met coach Sami Al Jamal he told me I could be a champion within six months!”
He was not wrong, after some intensive training Lama participated in the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship and took gold in her weight and bronze in the open weight.
“This start motivated me to push more and I haven’t looked back,” she said.
More titles came but Lama says the pinnacle of her career was last week when she represented Jordan for the first time, instead of her club.
“It was different and a unique moment for me to see the Jordan flag rising at the World Championships. It was such a tough competition but I came through it. It will motivate me to win more for my country.”
Lama was the icing on one of the most successful months Jordan sport has ever known with athletes winning medals at four world championships in four different sports.
Unfortunately none of the sports are currently included on the Olympic roster, but Lama hopes that will change by 2020.
The rock music fan said she is following the news about jiu jitsu possibly being included on the Tokyo 2020 programme, and a chance to realise her dream.
“To be in the Olympics would be a dream come true for me,” she said. “Even now I am training and competing with that in mind. Before that though jiu jitsu is a part of the Asian Games for the first time in 2018 so there is another opportunity to do something special for Jordan.”
The professional architect doesn’t have to look very far for inspiration with her sister Rana, also a World Champion and the winner of 2014 Black Iris Award for the Best Sportswoman in Jordan, her top role model.
“She was the first Jordan female to win titles in jiu jitsu overseas,” she said. “She has overcome many difficulties and proved that females can compete on the international level. I get my motivation from her as she is the best.”
It is refreshing to see also that the champion sisters are giving something back to the community through weekly sessions for 25 girls from the Orphan Kids Association, who have all passed the yellow belt.
A strong advocate of the JOC’s Living Sport mentality, Lama said that everyone should embrace sport into their daily lives.
Asides from her sister, she views coach Sami as her idol as he is the man who has “stood behind me since I started and supported me every time”.
“He is an amazing coach but still a quality player,” she said. Although he is training us, he still competes himself and wins. I’m so proud to be his student.
“On an international level, I like Brazilian Bernardo Faria, the world champion, as he has a near unique technique that no one can match.”
Finally she has a word of advice for youngsters looking to take up the sport: “Don’t be afraid of martial arts, it is just a sport that can give you the confidence you need in yourself, especially for girls. A strong commitment to training is also required to be successful in the sport.”