It’s Not About the Gold
By Ali Najem
Foreword by Melissa Campbell.
Image couresy of John Veage.
After 5 years in the making, this week Ali Najem realised his dream of winning the Open National 2km beach run title. Sure, he had had success as the U19 2km beach champion, however the Open National Title was the ultimate prize. But for Ali (and I think for most of us who trained with him) this wasn’t just about the Gold Medal. For the kid from Bexley, this was about breaking free from the inevitable path that his life could so easily have taken, breaking free from the stereotypes. I’m sure I speak for the whole Jock Athletic community when I say we are so proud of you not only for your win, but for being true to yourself, your faith and your dreams.
After the excitement of the race, I asked Ali to write down everything he was feeling while it was fresh in his mind. This is what he wrote.
The night before my race I sent my girlfriend Steph a message and I specifically said that wanting to win wasn't just about that gold, but it was about making Jock proud. The last 4-5 years Jock Campbell has taken me under his wings and given me his all and never given up on me. He believed in me when others didn't. Jock and his family have so much faith in me it'll be a disappointment and upsetting if I didn't win and make them proud.
And so it was. Seeing Jock's face 200m before the finish I couldn't contain my emotion. I went to high five him and almost broke the old man’s hand - so overwhelmed I just started crying uncontrollably. Don't remember much running in the last 50 metres except seeing all my Wanda team mates just jumping and screaming in happiness while I cry running in to win my first ever open national title. After the race, all I kept asking for was Jock. This time it wasn't to try and jump on him and celebrate. I just need to see him and see his happiness - that's all I wanted after crossing that line. What makes it so much more precious to me is the fact that I grew up and could have been stuck in many different crowds and situations and to think tonight, this 21 year old took a leap of faith 5 years ago, joined a random training group by accident, and just followed the guidance of his coach and believed in his ability while others I grew up with around were dying trying to prove there ability on the streets.
Tonight after 5 years of sacrifice and dedication , blood, sweat and tears, I was able to show off the craft that Jock Campbell has created. I never had as much talent, but boy I have worked bloody work and I was willing to die on that soft sand tonight to win and to make everyone proud, especially Jock and we did it. Through thick and thin Jock Athletic has not only been there for me for my training, but through all up and downs in my personal life. They have raised me up into a young talented man and given me so many opportunities in life. I want to be living proof that you can go against the odds and be different to the crowd you are brought up around because, realistically, when one of us makes it we all make it and tonight all of us made it - all my friends, family, we made it to the number 1 spot together.