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These 5 Arab athletes are competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics

StepFeed logo StepFeed 6 days ago StepFeed

These 5 Arab athletes are competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics launched in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday, with nations around the world sending their best athletes to compete.

Although the Arab world is not readily seen as a go-to destination for winter sports, that hasn't stopped two countries from sending some of their top athletes. 

Morocco and Lebanon, while not as well known internationally as ski spots, are great regional destinations for winter sports enthusiasts.

So, it's no surprise that these two Arab nations sent a few of their best skiers to represent their countries - and the region - on the world stage. 

Here are the five Arab athletes you should keep your eye on during the games:

1. Samer Tawk - Lebanon

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At just 19 years of age, Tawk is hailed as Lebanon's first-ever cross-country skier to qualify for the Winter Olympics. His qualification came after spending only two and a half years training in the sport.

"I competed in five races in Turkey. It was great, every race was 15km and I was putting in everything that I have, my technique, my body, my strength, it was all combined together," Tawk told Sport360 at a December qualification event in Turkey.

Joining two other Lebanese athletes at the game, Tawk will compete in the men's 15 kilometers freestyle race.

2. Natacha Mohbat - Lebanon

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Mohbat, 21, has been skiing since the age of four, inspired by the love her father had for the mountains.

Being an Olympic athlete also runs in the family. Mohbat's brother, Alexandre, represented Lebanon in the alpine skiing event at the 2016  winter games in Sochi, according to the PyeongChang 2018 website.

Previously, Mohbat has competed in world championships in Austria and the United States. She would have also competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics, but she sustained a knee injury.

This year, she'll represent her country in the women's slalom event.

3. Allen Behlok - Lebanon

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19-year old Behlok is a student at the Lebanese American University (LAU). He has previously competed in junior world championships in Russia and Norway, as well as the 2017 World Championship in Switzerland. 

While Behlok will represent Lebanon in two events - men's slalom and men's giant slalom - he also enjoys a range of other sports. Slacklining, climbing, and mountain biking are among his top activities, according to his official Olympic profile.

4. Adam Lamhamedi - Morocco

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He's only 22 years young but Lamhamedi is already participating in his second Winter Olympics for Morocco. Born in Canada to Moroccan parents, Lamhamedi has represented the North African kingdom since 2010 in international competitions. 

When he competed in the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, he actually won gold for Morocco. This made him the first person in history representing an African nation at a Winter Olympic event to win a medal, according to the official Olympic website.

"I wanted to prove that Moroccans can ski well, and I proved it [in Innsbruck at the Winter Youth Olympics]. This represents that in life you can do everything, never give up," the young athlete said.

5. Samir Azzimani - Morocco

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Azzimani, 40, previously competed for Morocco at the 2010 Winter Olympics. However, he competed in the slalom events in his previous Olympic appearance. This year, he will be racing in the men's 15 kilometers freestyle cross-country event.

When it comes to cross country, Azzimani previously raced in the World Championships in Sweden in 2015. 

"At age five I was put into state care because my mother couldn't look after me and my little brothers at the same time. It was a difficult but extraordinary period, as it was during this time I discovered the joys of skiing," he said, according to the Olympic website.

"After a few school holiday trips, I learnt how to ski and understood how much fun it could be. A few years later, skiing became a drug."

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