x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Omar answers his own Olympic calling

Omar Nour, who raced in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon last weekend, talks about transitioning from the corner office to triathlon training, and his dream of the Olympics.

Omar Nour says the skills used to be a good athlete are the same ones that it takes to be a good business person.
Omar Nour says the skills used to be a good athlete are the same ones that it takes to be a good business person.

How did you do in the triathlon?

Officially second. It was very emotional. With 2km to go, I was pushing so hard things started getting fuzzy. I saw the Egyptian flag my friend had waiting for me. I grabbed it, wanting to make sure the eagle was right side up. I didn't want to hold it upside down, and I put it behind me and that's it. That's all I remember.

What happened?

Next thing I know I'm on my back and there are ice bags and IVs. I ended up with heatstroke in the med tents for 1.5 hours.

Sounds exhausting. Why go through this?

I want to go to London in 2012 and be the first Egyptian triathlete of the Olympics.

You're still relatively new to this. How did you start?

Three years ago I weighed 105 kilos. I was getting into the car; my suit pants in my entire backside ripped. It happened twice. A friend said: "I was going to do a triathlon." I said: "Yeah, sign me up." I'm the one who ended up doing it.

Why weren't you as fit back then?

Because my brother and I were starting a business. It was our money we took out of our apartment that we owned. You start eating poorly, sleeping very little, gaining weight. If the business didn't make it, we'd be homeless.

What is the business?

An all-solutions call centre based in the US. Our largest client is the US state department, where we help with travel visa processing. It's a very competitive market. We made it more boutique. We have college students working it.

Were you conflicted competing with your homeland, where the call centre business is huge?

No, not at all. Business is business. And for me, I would love to do business with the Middle East. We've had numerous meetings with a call centre in Egypt to figure out how to work together. There's so much business out there. I don't think the problem is fighting over the same piece. It's figuring out how you all fit together.

Are there similarities in being a businessman and a triathlete?

I think the same exact skills used to be a good athlete are the same ones that it takes to be a good business person. You have to be able to risk things, OK, in order to get rewards. In a race, if you sit and wait for something to happen idly the race will go by and you'll never make your move. Business is the exact same thing: if you're waiting for something to fall in your lap it will never happen.

nparmar@thenational.ae