Faris Al Sultan was one of the big favorites to win the 2007 Ironman Triathlon World Championships but no one will know how much of a challenger he would have been. He surprised the triathlon community and his fans on race morning with the announcement that he would not start after experiencing stomach issues for several days. With the race now behind us we decided to follow up with Faris.
ST: Faris, can you tell our readers how hard it was for you not being able to start in Kona?
Faris: That was of course a black day in every which way, but I am a realist, I could have been drowning there instead.
ST: With the 2007 season now pretty much over for you, what are you going to do the next few months?
Faris: I’ll try to recover completely first and then I’ll be travelling to the U.A.E (United Arab Emirates) to prepare for the 2008 season.
ST: Which other sports do you enjoy?
Faris: Basketball, strength training and hopefully I’ll have some time to get involved with cross country skiing.
ST: You actually are not only a pro triathlete but you are also a student. Can you talk to our readers about your studies?
Faris: I am no longer an official student, but I have studied the history and culture of the Mideast. My main focus of my studies was the history of the Ottoman Empire of the 15th to the 19th Century, or simply said the predecessor state of what is now turkey.
ST: What other interests and hobbies do you have?
A: I enjoy reading and playing cards.
ST: You were at the start of a XTERRA triathlon in Germany this summer, what was your experience like and do you enjoy mountain biking?
Faris: I actually raced XTERRA Germany already in 2005. I like mountain biking despite struggling a bit technically and being somewhat timid, but it really is a very special challenge.
ST: Do you have a different nutrition plan over the winter?
Faris: My nutrition is basically adjusted to wherever I am at the time. For example in the UAE I’ll often have rice, grilled meat and Arab specialties such as humus and tabulah. In Germany I’ll eat a lot of bread and in the United States I’ll have muffins and bagels.
ST: Why don’t you tell us what we would find in your refrigerator?
Faris: In my refrigerator you’ll find Erdinger non-alcoholic beer, eggs, cheese, pickles, carrots and spring onions. But tonight we’re going out to eat steak.
ST: You are often seen with a headset before races. What music do you like in general and do you have favourite stuff you listen to before races?
Faris: I actually use an Oakley Thump, which is very cool and practical because I don’t have to deal with wires. Before races I listen for example to the music of Xavier Naidoo, but also Eminem, 50cent, Cheb Khaled and Nickelback.
ST: Do you have heroes in the sport of triathlon?
Faris: Hero is a very strong term, but I certainly would say that I have looked up to Thomas Hellriegel and he is actually the reason why I got involved in the sport. Plus clearly Mark and Dave are icons of the sport, and Peter Reed’s career is somewhat of an ideal for most athletes after the time of the icons.
ST: What is your favourite race and why?
Faris: Ironman Hawaii because it is the mother of all competitions, St. Croix because it is hard and has Caribbean flair and the short course race Schliersee because it is quite possibly the hardest short course race and due to its close proximity to Munich is somewhat of a hometown race for me.
ST: Which races are you planning to do in 2008?
Faris: That is not 100% clear yet, Hawaii for sure though.
ST: As the 2005 Kona champion you no longer have to qualify for the race, is that somewhat of a relieve?
Faris: It is kind of relaxing but in all reality I should have no problems to qualify anyway.
ST: Where do you think you’ll be in 5 years?
A: Despite not having that much fun right now being a professional triathlete, I surely hope to still be a professional triathlete by then.