Haidar Nawzad – Iraq
1. How long have you been rowing?
I started in 2004 before that I was involved in kayaking from 1999 to 2004. I changed sports because there are 6 olympic qualifying places for Asian countries in the rowing and only one for kayaking. My body is also more physically suited to rowing. I spent two years doing both sports and then as I got better at rowing I moved over full time.
2. How old are you? How tall are you and how heavy?
I am 29 years old. I am 187cm tall and weigh 92 kg.
3. What are your aims for the Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta here in Chungju?
Personally I want to qualify for London 2012 by finishing in the top 3.
4. Where do you hope to finish at the Olympics in London?
I would like to make the c final. I went to Beijing in a double so the single is a new challenge.
5. Who is your sculling hero?
Mahe Drysdale – because in 2006 he won all the world cups and the world championships and 2006 was the first year I went to the worlds. I also think Ondre Synek is very good and the final is going to be very exciting.
6. What is your best position at the world championships?
Finishing 3rd/2nd in D final in 2011.
7. Will you continue after London 2012?
I would definitely like to.
8. Do you have a family?
Yes I’ve been married for one year and my wife likes me doing the sport but finds it difficult when we are travelling abroad on camps.
9. What do you think of the course and camp in South Korea?
It is a beautiful course and place – I was here in 2007 for the Asian Championships so it is my second time here. The new buildings and improvements have made the place really great.
10. How do you find the food here?
It is very different from the food I am used to and it would be nice if a range of international dishes could be made.
11. Is rowing in Iraq growing?
The Iraqi team has been growing and developing in the last few years supported by the FISA development programme. We had a range of international coaches and are now coached by an Iraqi Maged Saleh. The Federation is developing the sport further by bringing in new athletes to extend our base. This year 20 juniors joined the team.
12. Do you get support from government?
The Iraqi Olympic committee funds us to row full time and they receive money to do that from the government. How much we receive depends upon performance.
13. Does anyone in the Iraqi team work outside of rowing?
14. What do you like to do in your free time?
I am a student studying sport education so spend my free time studying. After training I go to college and then do my second session and then eat and head to bed! I graduate in June.
15. What do you think helps make you a successful rower?
I think the ability to train full time is key as well as taking the training seriously and following a good programme.
16. What are facilities like where you train?
We row on the river in Baghdad which has a 1900m straight stretch. One complete loop around the section of river we row on takes 50 minutes. There is only one lake in Iraq which is 5 hours from Baghdad so not very easy for us all to access. The boathouse and facilities are supplied by our federation and is very beautiful.
17. How many people row in Iraq?
There are 16 clubs in Iraq 6 or 7 of which are in Baghdad where the majority of the good rowers are located. All our clubs have kayaking and rowing together and the national championships for both sports are held on the same day.
18. What’s your message for all the Asian countries competing here in Chungju?
The only way to get faster is to train seriously, don’t miss sessions and make every session count.