Gulf Weekly: Mighty Manal Fakhrawi has proved that hard work does pay off in the end as the equestrian proudly received a major accolade alongside other members of the Bahrain Royal Endurance Team for their sporting efforts.
She and other team members were awarded the Efficiency Medal, ordered by His Majesty King Hamad, in a glittering ceremony at the National Charter Monument following their team galloping to victory in the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) Endurance World Championship in Abu Dhabi last month.
His Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, attended the celebration held in honour of the King’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs and Royal Endurance Team captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
They celebrated his winning the FEI Endurance World Championship and ranking first in the world in the international classification of endurance sports.
“It was a day never to forget as His Highness Shaikh Nasser became the World Champion in a race that covered 160km and had more than 130 participants from all over the world,” said Manal, who was presented with the award by the Crown Prince and Prime Minister. “Bahrain also took home the gold in the teams’ category making it a double win for the country.”
It was quite meaningful for the horse-loving mum as she had jumped back in the saddle in 2021 after more than a five-year hiatus and clinched first place that same year in the 160km King Endurance Cup held at Bahrain International Endurance Village.
Horseracing and endurance is in her blood as she comes from a family of animal lovers and competitors in the sport. She grew up with different kinds of pets and farm animals and her horse-riding career started after a family day out at the stables, where her sisters and cousins enjoyed riding as she accompanied them. She eventually started taking lessons and years later entered competitions. Her first discipline was show jumping and she started competing at the age of 10.
In 1999, endurance racing was introduced in Bahrain and at 13, she jumped on the long distance bandwagon making her the youngest to compete alongside men. It wasn’t long before she joined the Royal Endurance Team and her goal has always been to represent the kingdom and compete in world championships ... which she is thrilled to continue doing for the long haul.
“This accolade comes after more than 20 years of hard work and dedication,” she added. “The time and effort put in this sport and the countless races and training that the members of the Royal Endurance Team and I had to endure.
“I feel extremely grateful to receive such an award and it is proof that hard work does pay off, and as long as you stay committed to your goals, you will achieve great things. The sacrifices and most importantly the failures lead to success as we continuously learn, grow and improve.
“I would like to thank Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (First Deputy President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, General Sports Authority president and Bahrain Olympic Committee president) for their support and trust in granting me this opportunity.”
As the season in Bahrain has ended, the squad is focusing on overseas races during the summer. The next race will be held in Windsor in the UK and Manal says, ‘they aim to achieve great results there too’.
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