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Sarah Farhoud, the inspirational coach and doctor behind the Saudi Paralympic team for the Tokyo 2021 Games

Sarah Farhoud supported the Saudi Arabian team at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games: an inspirational coach and PM&R specialized physician who brought motivation and perseverance to the various initiatives she undertakes. She strives to rehabilitate people with illnesses or disabilities in their environment, and to encourage women of all ages not to give up on their goals. An amazing dedication and courage that KAWA shares today.

A mindset of self-acceptance

Sarah Farhoud has been passionate about sports since she was a teenager: at the age of 19 she started a job as a fitness trainer in a gym while studying medicine. Instead of becoming an athlete herself, she decided to combine her two passions in order to help other athletes to reveal themselves and grow. She became a physical therapist specialised in PMR medicine, i.e. physical and rehabilitation medicine: Sarah treats, cares for and rehabilitates patients who have experienced major injuries and traumas, such as amputations, brain damage and various disabilities. 

 

Her career also took another turn when she became the Saudi team doctor for this year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Not only did she become their sports coach, but also their psychological coach, offering important emotional support. 

 

In Tokyo, I’m the team’s physician, I listen to them on everything from physical to mental concerns. Sometimes it’s more physical, if they have pain or injury. And it’s good to have a physician to be the person you can trust in your team to recommend what the athletes might need moving forward into the Games.” 

 

She is very proud of the Saudi team, made up of 7 athletes, including 2 women and 5 men. Indeed, Sarah likes to highlight their perseverance and tenacity, both in their personal lives and in sports. She believes it is necessary to put oneself in their shoes and realise that being qualified for the Olympic team is already a huge victory! Moreover, the training and efforts of these top athletes do not stop once the Games are over, far from it: they compete again and again. Sport and discipline are part of their daily routine. 

 

These athletes work so hard. I’ve known these athletes for a while now, and they practice every single day! They have a continuous build up of competitions after competitions and we have to give the athletes, especially Paralympians, the credits of making it, of qualifying and representing their country here : they are continuously working and that puts not only a physical toll on an athlete but also a mental toll. We have to understand that qualifying on its own is a huge achievement, and I’m very proud of every single athlete representing our country here.” 

 

In order to be successful in all aspects of their lives, the coach teaches them one of her main principles: to try again and again, and to accept their failures. A champion’s mindset that she passes on to her Olympic athletes and athletes of all levels! Accepting one’s victories as well as one’s failures is an effective way to know one’s limits, to push them back and thus to become a better person. 

 

This is what Sarah strives to convey not only through her Olympic team, which proudly represents Saudi Arabia, but also through the various groups she leads: fitness, cardio, yoga or running classes, there is no shortage of activities to offer others motivation and discoveries. 

A proud supporter of women’s cause

Sarah was approached by Adidas to become a Coach Runners (an international group of athletes who come together to discover and challenge themselves through running) and she uses her influence and experience to support women’s cause, which is very close to her heart. 

 

She encourages women of all ages to come together and discover running and shares the benefits of it: meeting new people, gaining self-confidence, safety and freedom, discovering a new interest and a new welcoming and supportive community. The sessions are suitable for all levels and profiles, and anyone is free to run a 3km or a 10km! Information about the races across Riyadh is shared by the coach on her Instagram page ‘Wellness by Sarah Farhoud‘, where she also shares photos of yoga retreats, running sessions and more, and of her teammates. 

 

In this continuity of progress, Sarah Farhoud was particularly honoured to see Sarah AlJumaah, the first female athlete to qualify for the Saudi Paralympic team! A great premiere and a great inspiration for all. It is also very encouraging and motivating to see that the official doctor of the Olympic team is a woman, and this example serves as an inspiration to thousands of young girls who want to pursue medical careers or other professions. Along with her, Maryam Almuraysil is the second female athlete on the team and will be participating in the table tennis competition. 

 

It’s the first time we have two female paralympic athletes in the Paralympic Games representing Saudi Arabia, which is a huge deal. Sarah Aljumaah was the first ever Saudi female to qualify for the Paralympics, so we’re super excited for her ! I’m very happy to work with Saudi Arabia, because we’re opening the doors for women to work in sports and for my specialty specifically to expand in this area too. Everybody was surprised to see a female saudi physiatrist which is a big deal : it’s my first time and I’m super excited!” 

 

Sarah, the Paralympic team and the young women she coaches on a daily basis are models of resilience and courage, proving that what matters is the effort you put in, despite illness or difficulties in life.