x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hail to the natural

Like the Jamaican running legend Usain Bolt, Waahid Ally ditched one sport to excel at running. With a little more institutional support there's no telling how fast, and far, he can go.

The Jamaican running legend Usain Bolt wanted to play cricket for a living until he was persuaded that his greatest talent lay right at his feet.

So it may be for a 16-year-old schoolboy named Waahid Ally, whose ambitions have previously focused on the football pitch. As we report today, Waahid had broken records at Emirates International School - Jumeirah previously, but he ran his first organised 100 metre sprint only three weeks ago. He was clocked at 10.72 seconds. This was .08 seconds faster than the winner of the under-17 category of the IAAF World Junior Championships.

Not bad for a first time runner. And he did it without the benefit of starting blocks. Properly trained and equipped, there is no telling how far he can go.

There may be other Waahids out there - in running and other sports as well - but without a system of regular competition, they remain unknown. Waahid himself said that he doesn't know "where they do any professional training here".

Dubai Race Night is a step in that direction. Held on Sunday at the Dubai American Academy, this is the country's first organised open track competition where coaches can scout for young talent.

With a strong wind gusting in his face, Waahid still broke the tape at 11 seconds flat. With more support, there's no telling how far he can go.