by Sherif Awad
-I was born in a small town in northern Spain, and grew up in another even more humble, at a time when, from a very young age, study was mandatory and learn to work inescapable, independently of the work concerned.
Since I was a little girl, I became interested in sport, and had good aptitudes, but my family had other priorities and with the sport you did not earn money. There was also no means to practice it in my environment.
When I was eighteen years-old, I wanted to join the army, but in Spain, at that time, women could not access the military career and so I had to settle to become a local police officer. That work is the one that is still paying my bills until today. For two years, I was part of the police pentathlon team and competed at the national level. When I become twenty-two, I left the team and I was obliged to terminate my short career.
-In my family, during my teenage years, the TV was restricted and so we could only watch TV on Saturdays and Sundays. Access to books or any other type of information was very limited, any aspiration outside our environment that might arise was innate. On Sunday mornings, I used to listen to a sports program and looked sideways while doing my chores. In this programو I met the pilot Angel Nieto and the gymnast Nadia Comaneci. To become like them made me more tenacious and fighter. In the 1980s, I saw rapt on the big screen, films about the war in Vietnam, Rocky and Rambo… it was not just the sport that attracted me about all things, was the sport at the highest level… survival.
-I returned to sport when I was 40 years old. My genetics draws the attention of many doctors and arouses curiosity in more than one physical trainer. Currently I train three hours a day, but I have come to train six hours a day, seven days a week.
Now I am 51 years old, I can no longer run or ride like when I was 20, but my resistance is infinite. I am able to achieve levels of sacrifice that another person could not. Even of pain.
-When I plan a challenge the first thing that I study is whether it has been performed by someone else before. If no one has done it, it is time to start the feasibility study, which budget is managed, how many days, what I need… but I never ask me if I can do it, because I know I can. If I do not know how to paddling, I will learn, if I do not know how to ride a motorbike off road, I will learn, but I never discard a challenge because of the difficulty or because I do not dominate the sport discipline, I know that I can learn and do it.
For the crossing of Western Sahara,I had no experience in motorcycle driving off-road, but I quickly learned and got to the end of the journey with success.
The same thing I did in the “Canal de Castilla”, I had to learn to paddle and keep me on a kayak. I learned quickly, only train eight days in water before carrying out the 273 km without stopping. My technique was not good, but my mental and physical strength were able to deal with everything.
-A few months ago, I started to work as advertising model. My first recording was acting as Diana Nyad, I was fascinated to do the role of this extreme swimmer. A shooting in very harsh conditions but very rewarding to begin in this world so new to me. I know that I carry myself openly well in front of the cameras and I do not discard to intensify my work in this field.
I am also working hard in the world of aesthetics, as a model for some brands of cosmetics and as a makeup technician. I would like to be the image of any firm.
About stardom, I hope a lot to achieve it. I have worked very hard over the past six years. I have trained, learned, and devoted all my time to sport. I have not had any moment of rest to enjoy with family or friends. My dedication has been exclusively, and I think it is time to achieve my goal which is to get to TV from any country the extreme sport seen as I see it, in an original way, fresh, innovative, interesting and very authentic… There is no woman or man doing this in any part of the world and I know that it will have success. Reaching my personal success fills me, but I would also like to be a benchmark for many women and men and transmit what I insist continuously: It is never too late, nothing is impossible.
-My biggest challenge now is to find the necessary support to continue doing challenges and achieve that what I do is valued. My effort and sacrifice have to be the point of reference for many other women who have been convinced that they are conditioned by their sex and age. There are no sponsors anymore, only football, tennis and Moto GP find economic support. Social responsibility for the minority sport has disappeared. Despite having a successful curriculum and have demonstrated on numerous occasions my worth, women and sports are not interesting yet in Spain.
I have had to hear comments such as: ‘If you were a man you would have your own program already’, but none of this affects me, I know that the road will be hard and very long, but I’m very persevering and I know I will get it, in Spain or any other country.
-I have offered my sports projects to many Spanish producers. All of them see the material that I offer very striking and novel to make a program/documentary, there is nothing similar on TV all over the world. But now in Spain are in fashion the reality, programs of pure entertainment where they gossip about famous and overestimates the influencers showing and idealizing a way of life banal and ephemeral that confuses the young and not so young people about their prospects for the future.
Currently I am in touch with producers of other countries who may be interested in showing a woman survivor who carries out expeditions, who is put through challenges and sets records no one has raised before, in a totally natural and authentic way.
-I never say NO to offered works.I like to learn, to participate, to collaborate. I don’t mind if there is income or not, what really fills me is to participate in all I can and even more if I can bring something with my experiences. I help young athletes that are beginning to find sponsorship and I show them how much I have learned over the years. I try to enjoy each moment as the first day. The key to all of this in not being overcome and continue working very hard.I hope that get called soon from any country to record some unprecedented athletic challenge.
-I spend all my time and savings on sports. I work as a policewoman in the night shift, in order to be able to train and work in sport during the day. My children are studying at university and understand that I travel a lot and I must be very focused on what I would do if I want to move forward. They support me in everything, even participated in some of my challenges as a support vehicle, but also make me reflect on occasions about whether so much sacrifice is worth it. I have to organize myself and be very disciplined if I want to have time for everything, but I am pleased with the results and want to continue while I can.
-My preparation requires a lot of constancy. Every day I train a minimum of 3 hours, and when the date of performing any of my challenges approaches, I devote the entire day to train and prepare everything. My diet is very rigorous and much more now that I have reached menopause. My body has suffered a significant hormonal change that affects a lot to my trainings. I am constantly monitored by a sports doctor, physical trainer and gynecologist. To count with this team of experts who engage and know well how the body of women works at different stages of life helps me a lot. Each test/challenge requires a comprehensive study to ensure the success of the expedition. I must study routes, climatic conditions, resources available to me and that I will have to manage. Support vehicle, food… nothing is left to chance if I want to ensure success. The federations of the different sporting disciplines do not recognize the extreme sport, because of that I always have to act individually and without any support from any of them. Depending on the place where I am going to perform the test, I will have to ask for permissions and draw my own accident insurance and civil liability. All of this raises the Budget quite a bit. I also have to manage my social networks and media, so important for sponsors and supporters to be satisfied.
-My desire is to carry on with extreme projects. I have a list of 30 scattered all over the world. I even invite people in other countries to seek unpublished challenges to travel to and accomplish them for the local TV.
Two of the most striking projects are: ‘Running the Sahara’ journey running the Western Sahara, 1775 km in 42 stages.
And ‘Trans Eurasia Polar Expedition’, to arrive by motorcycle to the Bering Strait in winter, more than 4000 km in the Arctic Circle, rolling at -40°C at total night.
I will also continue working as advertising model, giving motivational and overcoming talks in companies and educational centers and collaborating with associations, organizations and foundations aimed at women, sport, health and well-being.