Lawrence Of Arabia: Lawrence Fanous Exclusive
Arab Triathlon Champion Lawrence Fanous speaks exclusively to TriRadar
British-based Arab Triathlon Champion Lawrence Fanous talks exclusively with TriRadar about his way into the sport, being the first Jordanian elite triathlete and the growing profile of triathlon in the Middle East.
Born in Amman, Jordan’s capital, Lawrence Fanous has progressed through the international elite triathlon ranks and can now proudly call himself the world’s best Arab triathlete. Now 27, he’s helping to drive the growth of the sport in the Middle East. His sporting career began at just four years old.
“Taekwondo’s quite a big sport in Jordan and one of the only sports we’ve won an Olympic medal in, so it was the first sport I ever did,” says Fanous. “I progressed pretty quickly because by the time we left Jordan for the UK, just before I was six, I was already halfway to black belt, so that might have been my sport if I’d stayed there.
“Once we’d moved to the UK at the end of 1990, I did tons of sports – cricket football, athletics, rugby – and outside of that, carried on with Taekwondo for a bit. I even did ballroom dancing – it was a bit embarrassing as a kid, but I wish I still had those moves! Then I started swimming.
“Swimming’s not big in Jordan but we moved into a house with a pool and my parents wanted me to learn from a safety point of view. I loved it, though, and after a few months the swim teacher suggested I move to the local swimming club – Falcon SC in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Swimming then became my sport and I eventually made it onto the Notts county swim squad, Nova Centurion, and swam competitively at district level.
“I then picked up running. My nine-session-per-week swim schedule had made me very fit and without much run training, I was medalling at all the county cross-country and athletics championships. I always loved it when I crossed the line and got the feeling that I wanted to do it again, and do it faster!”
As a keen sportsman based close to Loughborough University, home of many of British Triathlon’s development programmes, it was only a matter of time before multi-sport racing came to Fanous’ attention. Sure enough, by age 13, he was already on the path to pro triathlon.
“With my swim and run talent, a teacher at my school – Nottingham High School – suggested I give triathlon a go,” he says. “I didn’t know much about it so I was intrigued to see what it was all about.
“My first race was the Etwall Kids’ Triathlon, a very basic event in Derby. I was on a mountain bike and the course was on grass! I only came 11th and didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I could do better. I remember the buzz of finishing that first race. I did it again the next year and came fourth, which I thought was a good start.”
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