Meet The Rider: Nora Albarrak
Tell us about yourself:
“Hello, my name is Nora Albarrak, and I’m a physiotherapist at Jaber Hospital. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy (PT) from the University of Kuwait in 2015, followed immediately by my Masters's degree in PT as well. I’ve been on the job for about 2 years now!.”
What got you into cycling? And how long have you been cycling?
“Well, I should mention that I am not a “pure” cyclist; I consider myself a triathlete. Regardless of that, I still consider cycling a core part of the sports I do. I started cycling about 4 years ago, in 2019, well, actually, I’ve been into sports all of my life, and it all started with running. Over the years, I started swimming and kept up with both running and swimming. In 2019 however, I wanted to become a triathlete, so becoming a cyclist was the last piece of the puzzle!”
Did someone or something inspire you to start riding? Who?
“Well, to be honest, I can’t name a person that led me or inspired me to pick up cycling; because it was the whole triathlete community that inspired me to do so. With no exceptions! At the time, I was running and swimming; I kept an eye on the triathlete & cycling community because that was the one thing I wasn’t doing at the time. I would get inspired by cyclists every time I saw one, and I admired their dedication to their sport. I was always asking myself, “Come on, Nora! When am I going to become a triathlete?” So yeah, all of the cyclists and triathletes I spoke with were encouraging me to chase that and join the community of triathletes in Kuwait.”
What was your best ride ever?
“Hmm, best ride, I’m not sure… I don’t think I have one specific ride that stands out as the “best” ride because every single ride is special on its own. Each ride is a special ride. I love the Friday rides whenever I ride with the different groups early in the morning since I get to meet new people and those rides tend to be somewhat of a social ride. So I guess every social ride is a good ride for me, to be honest.”
What does cycling mean to you?
“Honestly, cycling & triathlon means more than I could describe; they're part of who I am; they define me. These sports are interwoven with every single thread that makes up who I am, and I can’t see myself without them.
These sports made me who I am today. They are part of my personality, my routine, and part of my day, and I can’t really see or understand myself without them.
Being a triathlete helped me get a few podium spots across the Arab world. My first podium was last year, at an aquathlon Run-swim-Run where I got 3rd place. After that, I went to Abu Dhabi, where I got 3rd place at an ITU Race triathlon in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) category; it was a swim-bike-run. I did score a few more podiums after that based on a few categories. The last podium I got was in Jordan, which was another ITU race Asian Cup where I got 3rd place in the under 30-years category.”
What can you tell us about being a female athlete in Kuwait?
“Percentage-wise, sure, male athletes take the majority of it. However, that doesn’t mean female athletes are fewer or less common. As a matter of fact, the number of female athletes is bigger than you might expect across all sports, and not just in cycling. Believe it or not, we have a big number of elite female athletes that compete on both national and international levels and even make it to the Olympics.
It's not only normal to be a female athlete in Kuwait; it's actually on the rise. It's been growing over the years as more and more females pick up many of the different sports both within Kuwait and outside of it. Another great thing is that there has been growing interest in supporting and sponsoring up-and-coming female athletes across Kuwait.
The cool thing is that standards are high, and female athletes have raised the bar even higher. It’s not like there is one really good female athlete; there are lots of them that compete for the podium and help the community grow even more.
What do you need as a cyclist in Kuwait?
“We need a lot of things as cyclists in Kuwait! We need the infrastructure; we need cycling paths, even if they are short loops that are safe from cars! We need car-free roads just for cyclists to train and ride worry-free. You know, even a cycling lane would be great at this point. The country, drivers, and most people, in general, lack awareness of cyclists on the road, so we need more awareness from all parts of society. The “Share the road” mentality is lacking, and we need to increase awareness about it so that everyone can benefit from it, not just cyclists. “