Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

Meet the Emirati kitesurfing champion making waves after bouncing back from injury

Mohammed Al Mansoori was given a new lease of life by surfing after spending years recovering from bike accident

A self-taught kitesurfing champion who battled back from serious injury to rule the waves has sent out a rallying cry to fellow Emiratis to take up the sport.

Dubai resident Mohammed Al Mansoori was in a coma for a month and faced years of painstaking rehabilitation when he shattered both of his legs in a biking accident at the age of 18 in 1999.

Before, Mr Al Mansoori was a football player at a local club and a runner. He practised extreme sports like parkour and pulled stunts on skateboards and rollerblades.

His energetic, thrill-seeking lifestyle was brought crashing down in an instant, leaving him with a fight to walk again.

“The accident left me in a coma for around a month, but when I woke up I could not walk for years. I was new to biking – I had just been practising for one month when I had the accident,” said Mr Al Mansoori, now 40.

“There were so many broken bones in my legs and injuries to my face and body."

After several years of surgery and plenty of hard work, he got back on his feet – and then onto a board.

"I don’t remember what my thoughts were at the time, but I definitely never thought I would become the UAE’s kitesurfing champion.

My dream is to become the Gulf champion

Mohammed Al Mansoori

“Before the accident I wanted to become the best football player in the world, that was my goal; but now I assure you that God took what I loved the most from me, football, and gave me something better.”

While on the long road to recovery, Mr Al Mansoori said he happened upon kitesurfing by coincidence.

“I couldn’t drive, so I used to ask my driver to take me to the beach, and there I used to watch the kitesurfers.

“I did not know much about the sport. I just enjoyed watching them.”

The joy turned into a fierce passion, and, as soon as he could walk again, Mr Al Mansoori bought a kiteboard and went to the beach.

“I wasn’t walking well yet, so I couldn’t enter the water. I just trained on the sand for four months.

“I asked the other surfers for safety instructions, and I taught myself from Youtube videos.

“I tried to go down in the water slowly, because it was still difficult for me to jump.

“Then, I started following international champions on the internet to learn how they do it.

"I fell in love with the sport because it involves a lot of high jumps, and I was always fond of extreme sports”.

His friends, already well-versed in kitesurfing, would challenge him whenever they saw him at the beach.

“So I started to learn new moves, to challenge them back.”

He started to take the sport more seriously when a friend called on him to put his skills to the test in a championship event in Al Mirfa in 2014.

“He said he would beat me, and I ended up beating him, and all the local guys who were competing," said Mr Al Mansoori. "This was my first competition.”

The following year, he took part in Red Bull’s kitesurfing championship in Bahrain and finished in second place.

Since then, he has toppled the best Emirati kitesurfers in a number of local championships, and claimed victory in the Qatar Open Kiteboarding championship in 2015 and 2016.

However, he said he still has many objectives.

“My dream is to become the Gulf champion, but there is no GCC championship yet. There are separate competitions in some countries," he said.

“I wish for more Emiratis to practice the sport, so we can have a stronger presence and start more regional leagues.

“And I just want them [young Emiratis] to try it, because it is the best sport I have ever tried and they will never understand what I mean until they try it themselves.”

Updated: October 13, 2020 08:33 AM

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