“I’m trying to make the Palestinian Olympic team to run the 100 meters,” Mohammed al-Khatib told NBC News as he warmed up for a race in Houston, Texas. “I never dreamed of training here [in Houston] but I see this as one step on my journey to Rio.”
Sprinter Mohammed al-Khatib is a native of Hebron, a city in the southern West Bank of Palestine. Growing up, Khatib had no access to sports facilities or even sporting gear but he was determined to compete in the Olympics. In 2013, he reached out to one of the most decorated sprinters in U.S. track history – Bill Collins who now coaches in Houston. Khatib pleaded for help. As Coach Collins remarks, “He said he felt he could make the Olympic standard [for the 100 meter]” with proper coaching. Collins was at first skeptical, and told the young athlete that the qualifying time had to be two to two and a half seconds faster than he had ever run before. “Khatib said, ‘I could do it’ and then I accepted the challenge.”
Khatib soon launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding page which raised $12,000 in just 72 hours, and with those funds, he arrived at Rice University’s track stadium in Houston last January. And yes, currently he is training with Coach Collins with an eye firmly on one thing… the Olympics. Khatib’s best time in an official race is 11.3 seconds, coming down a full second since his training began.
“I didn’t think Mohammed could do it until I met him,” said Collins, chuckling. “There’s no failure in Mohammed.”