Lawrence Fanous is carrying the Jordan flag into the Olympic triathlon for the first time on Thursday, and he believes that “anything can happen”.
Based in the Copacabana Beach area, the triathlon is one of the Olympics most demanding events, with a swim, cycle and run putting the world’s best to the test.
And for 30-year-old Fanous it is a dream come true, and he remembers when he caught the Olympic ‘bug’ watching the triathlon at the Sydney Games on television in 2000. “I watched the event with my triathlon club, I was only 15 but I remember thinking one day I want to do that at an Olympics, and here I am!” said Fanous, who was born and spent his early years in Amman before his family moved to England where he now lives and trains. “I also went out to watch the Olympics in Athens and I guess that just fuelled the fire further. It is a dream come true competing here in Rio de Janeiro and I can’t wait for it to start.”
Fanous has spent the past week in Miami focussing on the race and has set a realistic target of a top 30 finish, and an ambitious dream of gate crashing the top 15.
“My best finish in a World Series event is 35th so to beat that here would be an achievement,” he said. “I am a bit of a late bloomer in the sport and only started doing the top end stuff in the World Series in 2013. But I am not here to make up the numbers, I want to make a statement and finish well to put Jordan on the triathlon map.”
Fanous spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday testing the course and said the water, which has come under fire because of its pollution levels, “should be OK providing it doesn’t rain”. “It is about 21 degrees so warm enough to swim without a wet suit which will help. Generally, though, I feel OK and have been training well and without injury for some time now. The waiting is the worst bit so I am just keen for the race to start now.”
The triathlon is expected to start around 5pm Jordan time and Fanous is aiming for a finish of around 1 hour and 55 minutes.