Karate champion Haya Jumaa on keeping her Olympic dream alive

Published 2020-05-25 15:21

Jumaa has been training overseas since March

Haya Jumaa had a plan in place as she prepared to represent Canada at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

She was attending a training camp in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ahead of a competition in Rabat, Morocco, when everything got cancelled in March.

Although her plans have changed, she’s keeping a positive attitude.

The 26-year-old karate champ is still in the UAE with her parents because she couldn’t get a flight home.

“I just stayed here with my parents,” she said. “I'm glad my parents are with me because they are my coaches. So I'm continuing my training at home.”

Training during a pandemic and Ramadan

Jumaa was born in the UAE and lived there until she was 20, when she and her family moved to Mississauga, Ont.

She is currently living in the family’s apartment in a city called Sharjah.

She’s a Canadian citizen and qualified for the Summer Olympics, which have been postponed until next summer.

Jumaa trains twice a day, doing fitness and cardio first and karate later in the day.

a woman jumps on a cement block; doing kicks inside.

(Submitted by Haya Jumaa)

On top of that, she was fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended on Saturday.

(Muslims who observe Ramadan don’t eat or drink all day until sundown, when they gather for a family meal. They wake up before sunrise to have breakfast.)

She timed her training so that she could end her fast after her afternoon workout.

“I use the water in my body so I don't hydrate myself. So I train, shower and eat,” she told CBC Kids News last week. “I’m used to it.”

A woman trains in a city, wearing a mask. Doing the a splits kick and jumping in the air.

Since restrictions have eased recently in the United Arab Emirates, Haya Jumaa can now do some training outdoors. (Submitted by Haya Jumaa)

Olympics still on her mind

What she isn’t used to is training without an opponent.

“I hope we get over this COVID very quickly because I need to travel and have a training camp and have training partners,” she said.

But Jumaa isn’t letting that get in the way of her dreams of competing in the Olympics.

“What keeps you motivated is my goal,” she said. “I always look at the bigger picture — what I've been working for all these years…. I have a dream that I want to achieve for my country.”

 “What we're going through, it's just temporary…. And then we're going to go back to our normal lives. So [we] always have to have this hope that everything will be OK. Try to make it entertaining and active at home as much as possible.”

She admits it’s not easy.

“Sometimes you feel like you're less motivated or you're just tired of the same routine. But that's when you have to push harder.”

Karate is one of several sports set to make its debut at the Olympics this summer but their delay isn’t bringing her down.

“I was like, maybe this could be better if I need to use this time, this whole year … to push harder and just train for that gold medal.”

Jumaa is hoping to fly back to Canada in the coming weeks.

Favourite song right now: Hall of Fame by The Script. Favourite coronavirus snack: Dates. The first thing she wants to do when physical distancing is over: Visit relatives and friends.

Check out these other articles about what Olympic hopefuls are doing during COVID-19:

Correction: A previous version of this article indicated that Jumaa had qualified for the Olympics, when in fact, she has not yet qualified.

About the Contributor

Arjun Ram
Arjun Ram
CBC Kids News Contributor
Arjun Ram is a Grade 11 French immersion student from Hamilton, Ont., with many diverse interests such as sports, music and math. Arjun has developed an interest in reporting on social and political issues as well as important developments in the area of professional sports. He hopes to one day work as a news anchor for CBC.

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