Over the past few months we have been sharing the success stories of some of the young athletes that the Jordan Olympic Committee is keeping an eye on for future success.
Names like golfer Shergo Kurdi are expected to become well known in the coming years and in tennis, another talented 12-year-old has made his way onto the JOC talent radar.
Before he was even four, Abdullah Shelbayeh had become familiar with holding a tennis racket and his father, Khalid Shelbayeh, realised the youngster had a talent for the game.
“Abdullah started to love tennis after watching the game on TV and then he was kicking the tennis ball everywhere in the house,” said Khalid. “He really wanted to play the game even at such a young age so I took him to a juniors’ school organised by the Tennis Federation to learn the game properly.”
The youngster hasn’t looked back since and the game has taken the seventh grader across the region and Europe in the pursuit of success for Jordan.
“I believe that sport is crucial to a child’s development so I am supporting him as much as I can,” said Khalid.
Tournament titles have come in places like Tunis (2011), Antalya (2012) and Egypt (2012) not to mention numerous national, Arab and West Asia successes in both singles and doubles. Last year he won gold (doubles) and silver (singles) at the West Asian Games in Lebanon.
Abdullah has become quite a hit in Europe. He has clocked up 38 wins from 43 matches and will join their ranking system when he reaches 14 years.
His talent has been noticed by the International Tennis Federation who have granted Abdullah a training camp and the Level Three Championship in Asia.
Mixing top class tennis with education requires a careful balance and Abdullah’s father says he is grateful to his son’s school, the Modern System School, for understanding his situation and allowing him time off to practice and compete.
Away from tennis, the youngster enjoys swimming and says he gains his inspiration from the Prophet Mohammad, while singling out Rafael Nadal, the former Spanish No 1, as his tennis idol.
A lover of rap music, Abdullah says he loves to eat Mosakhan and thanks his family, the school and his coach Rafeeq Beshlaq, for their overwhelming support.
"If you want to become a champion you should work and train very hard to reach those dreams," he said.
The JOC will follow Abdullah’s progress carefully and who knows? We could be hearing “Game, Set and Match to Shelbayeh” at some of the biggest tournaments in the world before we know it!