Who is the fastest Olympian? Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps? What about Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar. Al-Attiyah competed in his fifth Olympics in shooting in Rio (having won bronze in London) but it is in rally car racing where he gets the nod for the Olympian who travels the fastest.
In 2015 Al-Attiyah clinched his second Dakar Rally car title to give Mini its fourth consecutive success in the grueling 6000 mile event.
Originally known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, but renamed the Dakar after a move to the South Americas in 2009, it is the preeminent endurance rally race in the world.
Al-Attiyah’s win in 2015 meant he became only the seventh multiple winner in the car category.
Apart from the Dakar wins, he was also the 2006 Production World Rally Champion, an eight-time Middle East Rally winner and the 2014 and 2015 WRC2 champion.
However, like other Olympians who have switched sports, say Nate Ebner from the Patriots who played for USA in rugby, shooting and driving aren’t exactly mutually compatible — And for the record, should never be attempted at the same time.
“I only started shooting to help me with my driving,” Al-Attiyah recently told the BBC. “Rallying and shooting complement each other — they both require you to be focused and see everything around you. I sometimes have to drive for up to 15 hours a day and a loss of concentration means mistakes can happen.”
On Saturday Nasser Al-Attiyah competed in the Men’s skeet event, and unfortunately finished in 31st place. Whilst driving is his career, it is shooting that remains to be his passion.
“You are representing your country and everyone is supporting you,” he told the BBC. “If the Olympic Games was taking place at the same time as Dakar or another race, then I would choose the Olympics.”
Luckily for shooting, and for rallying, he doesn’t have to make the difficult decision between the two.
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