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Athlete of the Month: Ahmed Soltan

What inspired you to start your fitness journey?

I strive to improve myself not just for my own benefit, but also for the well-being of my family. Additionally, as I grow older, I aim to stay physically active and avoid being sedentary.


Was there a specific moment or event that motivated you to begin running, cycling, and playing pickleball?

I am an active person and used to do all these sports, but by myself, recently, I've found that engaging in solo activities didn't yield the results I desired. Being part of a group provides ongoing motivation and daily challenges for self-improvement. My commitment stems from a desire to benefit both myself and be a role model for my family, as well as to lead an active lifestyle as I age.



Congratulations on completing your recent half marathon! How did you prepare for this race?

Following my coach's programs and advice yielded great results, but I also realized that I needed to put in the work on my own, the essence of my progress lies in consistent training, unwavering dedication, and the persistent challenge of self-improvement each day.

Regarding my running routine, I maintained a weekly distance of around 25 km, increased it to 40 km a few weeks before the marathon, and then tapered off at least a week before the event.


What challenges did you face during your training for the half marathon, and how did you overcome them?

For me, this marked my second half marathon, so I didn't experience the same level of apprehension as I did during my first half marathon. However, a few weeks prior to the race, I sprained my ankle while playing pickleball at the community center. I made sure to heed my body's signals and refrained from overexerting myself, opting instead to take it easy until I felt ready to resume training. It underscores the significance of attuning to one's body and adjusting one's approach accordingly, a crucial aspect of achieving success.


How did you feel crossing the finish line, and what did completing the half marathon mean to you?

I was filled with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, but it didn't take long for me to recall that my next objective is to tackle a full marathon. Right after the race, my mindset shifted towards preparing for that new challenge. Essentially, there's no permanent finish line; it's always about advancing forward!


You started cycling last year. What sparked your interest in cycling?

I've been cycling since I was 8, mostly for leisure. As a kid, I was drawn to the sense of freedom and the chance to explore while breathing in fresh air. My passion for cycling reignited when I learned about group excursions to explore scenic locations across Canada, offering diverse routes beyond just cycling around the neighborhood. The prospect of discovering new routes, cities, and places continually inspires me to pedal further.


How has cycling complemented your overall fitness routine?

 Running has actually contributed to enhancing my overall fitness, which in turn has benefitted my cycling performance. It's true, running can be quite challenging, but as the saying goes, with every struggle comes progress.


Do you have any favourite cycling routes or experiences you'd like to share?

I'm not particularly fond of hills, or as I humorously call them, "hells," but I've come to accept them as an integral part of the journey. I especially enjoy routes that take us away from the city, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the natural beauty of farms, lakes, and suburban landscapes. Before moving to Canada, I spent a lot of time off-roading in deserts and remote areas, seeking out new experiences beyond the familiar. I refer to this blend of activity, enjoyment, and exploration as the "magic mix."


What got you interested in playing pickleball?

I've been playing ping pong since childhood, with periods of interruption and return. However, when I discovered pickleball, I experienced a similar thrill to playing ping pong. Like ping pong, pickleball requires strategy, focusing on ball placement and anticipating your opponent's moves to score points. What sets pickleball apart is its more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. It's less about competition and more about camaraderie, with plenty of fond memories and laughter shared among players. Winning or losing isn't the main focus; it's about enjoying the game together. Sometimes, there's a disagreement on whether the ball is in or out, but rather than argue, we happily accept it and move on, because ultimately, the most important thing is having fun and enjoying each other's company.


How does pickleball contribute to your fitness goals?

It aided in building my stability and agility, allowing me to react swiftly to lateral and backward movements with ease. Despite not being particularly gentle on the ankles, experiencing two twists made me more mindful of my actions, leading to improved court positioning to prevent similar injuries.


Have you participated in any pickleball tournaments or events? If so, can you share a memorable experience?

I took part in the inaugural Agalateya tournament, relishing the opportunity to join fellow enthusiastic players. While winning wasn't my primary aim, my main goal was to immerse myself in the experience and actively participate, which I accomplished successfully. In the next tournament, my objectives might evolve, but the enjoyment of the game will always remain a priority.


How do you manage your time and energy between running, cycling, and playing pickleball?

The key is to work smart, not just hard. I meticulously organize my calendar and constantly brainstorm ways to streamline tasks, aiming to save time whenever possible. This principle applies not only to my personal life outside of work but also during my work hours. For instance, I take advantage of the flexibility of working from home by heading to the community center at 7:30 AM to play pickleball before my workday begins. Starting the day with an active pursuit sets a productive tone, priming me to accomplish more in less time thereafter. On days when I have to commute to the office, I rise early for a walk or a brisk run to energize myself before the day begins. There's always a way to optimize tasks, but it starts with believing in your ability to do so, which ultimately drives action.


What benefits have you experienced from engaging in multiple types of physical activities?

Meeting new people and learning various techniques and strategies are major benefits of participating in multiple sports. Each sport offers unique life lessons. For example, running teaches you to overcome mental barriers and focus on your own progress rather than comparing yourself to others, as everyone has different conditions and starting points. Instead, you learn to compete against your previous self. Pickleball, on the other hand, enhances your strategic thinking and awareness of others' playing styles, serving as a crash course in communication skills and understanding body language.


How has your fitness journey impacted your overall lifestyle and well-being?

Well, I've reduced my weight, though I still have 15 kg to go. Now, I can enjoy the food I love without needing to follow a strict diet. This is a huge win because, as I've shared with some of you, I previously lost weight three times by dieting, only to regain it each time after not changing my lifestyle. It felt like a cycle of inflating and deflating like a balloon. Eventually, I had an honest conversation with myself and realized that since I love food, I need to find balance. The deal I made with myself is that I can eat what I want, but I have to burn off the calories; otherwise, no food.


What role does diet and nutrition play in your fitness regimen?

As mentioned earlier, I follow the "See" food diet, which means I eat whatever I see and like but then make sure to burn off the calories. Simple and easy agreement with myself.


Can you share some tips for staying motivated and consistent with a fitness routine?

I'd like to share something personal that might resonate with many of us. I noticed that after retirement, my parents and grandparents began losing their mobility. Growing up, I often heard that rest is essential for health. However, I've come to realize that too much rest can actually be detrimental. Unlike machines, which last longer when not in use, the human body thrives with activity. The more we use it, the longer it stays healthy. This idea is not widely accepted in our culture, but it's a fact.


How has being a member of the Agalateya Sports Club influenced your fitness journey?

Being part of a larger group keeps me motivated and energized to meet up with friends and engage in activities we love together. Running or cycling alone isn't as fun, and you certainly can't play pickleball by yourself.


What do you enjoy most about the community and activities at the club?

I enjoy the social interactions before and after our events, whether it's grabbing a coffee or a quick snack. This sets us apart from other activity groups that just meet for the activity and leave right after. We're more than that, in simple terms.

While winning the games we play is important, broadening your understanding of winning allows you to be a continuous winner. For example, when I play pickleball with a beginner and lose, I don't avoid playing with beginners in the future. Instead, I see it from a different perspective: I win when that beginner gets a chance to learn and improve. That's a win! Additionally, knowing your partner is a beginner pushes your own skills further to cover their gaps, which is another win. Similarly, when running, if I sacrifice my personal record time to help another runner finish the race or improve their timing, that is also a win. By expanding the definition of winning, I am always a winner.


How do you think the club can support and inspire other members on their fitness journeys?

Extending our activities to include our kids is a great next step, and I see this already starting to happen. I urge every parent to encourage their children to join. Many of our kids seem isolated and not fully integrated into Canadian culture, often spending time on their mobile devices or laptops. We need to get them involved in real-life activities, helping them form friendships they can trust and rely on. They will carry on this club and community after us. Fresh and younger members bring fresh and innovative ideas, so let's involve them in what we're doing.

To inspire someone , including our kids, on their fitness journey, show them how happy you are, the improvements in your life, and the new friends you make at each event. Be a role model, and they will follow. Pursuing, following up, or even yelling at them won't work as effectively as demonstrating the positive changes in your life. Show them the magic, and they will be inspired.

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The story in your journey is very impressive and motivating for me and everyone who started to resume activity after a while. I can relate to how tough it is but you did a great accomplish!!!

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Good come back Amira and you inspired me as well. Good job and keep it up

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Amazing work and an inspiring vision....above all, outstanding sportsmanship that I've seen first hand during Pickleball. Thanks for the positive vibes ya Soltan and setting a good role model for us and our youngsters

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Thanks Ahmed , it was pleasure to have a ride and play pickleball with you, looking forward to many more exciting games to come

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I’m always impressed by how fast you have improved over the past year, from barely running 5k to running half marathon, along with all the cycling and pickleball! Always a pleasure to run with you!

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Thanks Cherif for your leadership and support during this journey

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