Razan Baker, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2007-09-17 03:00

JEDDAH, 17 September 2007 — Veteran swimmer Ahmad Al-Kudmani said he would retire after his participation in the 11th Pan Arab Games to be held in Egypt in November.

Al-Kudmani told Arab News he is retiring to spend more time with his family. Though at 28 he still has the physical attributes to continue his favorite sport the breaststroke specialist said he was done after 22 years in swimming including 13 with the Saudi national team.

“I need to concentrate on my family and work,” he said in a phone interview from the Eastern Province, where he works at the Sea Water Injection Department at Aramco.

Al-Kudmani advised the athletes that, “If they have a goal and want to achieve it, they have to be patient and not give up from the first hurdle they face.” He added this was how he managed to get this far with the team.

He said that 14 years ago his goals were not clear except that he wanted to become a national champion. Then as he matures and his first goal was achieved in 1994, his vision started to broaden and he wanted to become Gulf champion and then Arab Champion, and both were achieved as well with hard work and commitment.

In the 1999 Arab Games in Jordan, he managed to emerge Arab champion for the first time and then repeated the victory in 2004 in the same event held in Algeria. He had wanted to compete in the 1997 Arab Games in Lebanon, but he said, “during that time I was applying for universities and it was hard to join the team.”

Now, Al-Kudmani is looking to quit swimming while at the peak of his career with a victory at the Arab Games.

“I want to end it with this event to prove that my performance during the past 10 years was an improvement and that it was not declining at all.”

Al-Kudmani said he was leaving swimming in good hands.

“I’m leaving but I know there are a lot who would continue to reap successes such as Yousif Al-Yousif, Bader Al-Muhanna, and in the youth team brothers Loai and Hazem Tashkandi and Saad Al-Qahtani. There are also a lot others who are determined to bring honor to the country and commit to trainings.”

He added they have shown great enthusiasm and within few years as the environment became more encouraging they would become champions too.

He explained when he started he had a hard time balancing home, work and training, but now things have been better and the Saudi Arabian Swimming Federation is creating a relaxed and lenient atmosphere for athletes. He said they were not used to training camps abroad but now that’s changed and the team undergoes several training camps in the Kingdom and abroad, which enriched their experience massively.

“The coaches too are always there now to help build the athletes’s confidence to train and compete. The management as well is very understanding and looks for the ways to improve the game and the athletes,” he said.

Al-Kudmani said the SASF offers fine training programs here and abroad. These programs he added, “could be scholarships that would benefit the athlete education wise and training wise.”

“I don’t see why the Kingdom could send thousands of students every year and could not afford to send athletes who excel in their studies on athletic scholarship abroad,” he asked.

Al-Kudmani said “I would not have reached this far ” were it not for the scholarship from Aramco to study mechanical engineering in the US at the University of Southern California where he represented the university’s swimming team there and got the chance to compete with others who came from a different background and with different performance standards.

Besides placing third at GCC Championship this year, Al-Kudmani also finished sixth at the 15th Asian Games in Doha in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke. Before that in 2005 he clinched a gold medal at the 50-meter breaststroke in a new Arab record of 28.99 seconds, and a silver medal at the 100-meter breaststroke for clocking 1:04.32 seconds at the 1st Islamic Solidarity Games in 2005.

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