Jordan’s head coach for Taekwondo has revealed the secret behind qualifying a record three athletes to this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
Faris Al Assaf, who coached Ahmad Abu Ghaush to gold at the 2016 Olympics, said that the introduction of the Olympic Preparation Centre (OPC) has been a breath of fresh air for sport in Jordan, and believes more success will be enjoyed by other sports too.
The OPC opened last year as a centre of excellence for elite sport and its impact is being felt already.
“Although it has only recently opened, the OPC has already made a huge difference to the way we can prepare for major competitions,” said Al Assaf.
“It is a massive achievement for three fighters to qualify from Jordan for the Youth Olympics and I believe the OPC has played a major part due to the way they were able to focus on their training.”
“We have great talent in Jordan who want to prove themselves, so having two females is some achievement as we have struggled recently to find the next crop of girls who could make a global impact on the sport.”
Although an incredible achievement, Al Assaf declared to the JOC three months ago that he had set a target of qualifying three fighters.
“We have confidence in our players, they have been training so hard for a while now. Such is their confidence that they are all aiming for a place on the podium in Buenos Aires.”
Egypt was the only other Arab country to qualify three fighters, more than the number achieved by countries like UK, USA, Mexico and China. "I'm so happy to hear that, we worked hard," said Al Assaf.
"We have started preparing for the next step, which is being ready for Argentina.
We set a plan that will be unveiled in the coming days.”
The three youngsters going for Youth Olympics glory will be Natali Al Humaidi, Rama Abu Al Rub and Zeid Mustafa.