Alaa Hussein is a Palestinian tri-athlete, engineer, and paramedic. She used to play football for a team in the first tier of the Lebanese Women’s league, winning a lot of silverware there. When football leagues stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her triathlete career began. She won 3rd place after participating in her first Duathlon (5km running – 20km cycling- 2.5k), then also won 3rd place in her first acquathlon (5km running-1200m swimming- 2.5km running). She then participated in her first triathlon (750m swimming- 20km cycling -5km running), winning 2nd place!
Let’s see what this wonderful young and talented athlete had to say when we asked her about sexism, how she deals with it, and her message to women on International Women’s Day.
Hello Alaa! It’s nice to chat with you. You’re a triathlete, a paramedic, an engineer and you also play the saxophone. I have witnessed women facing sexism in all these fields you’re in. Have you ever faced sexism or discrimination? And how do you usually deal with hate speech and sexism?
As triathlete all my training partners are male. They support and respect me but they get upset if I was stronger or faster than them. They see that as shame. Some said that clearly to me. “I can’t stop before you let’s stop together because I’m tired” if he did that his friends will say: “Ohh the lady is stronger than you.”
As paramedic, in medical cases we are all the same but they used to let us (females) stay in the center if it’s dangerous in case of fires, wars and bullets because we must run and wear heavy things for our safety, so they consider it hard for a female to do that but I insisted that it must not be a rule “as a sportswoman”; if I, or any of my female teammates, say we can handle something, we must be allowed to do it, and it worked.
In the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, they requested “men’s only” support because it was dangerous and there were fearful scenes of dead and injured victims. But I insisted to help and went, and searched for survivals.
Another point I want to mention here; when I got appointed as leader assistant, two of my male teammates didn’t take it easy that I’d be at a higher position than them so they requested a transfer to another team.
What is your goal and dream, as a sportsperson?
My goal as sportswomen is to continue practicing till I can do Ironman (swim 3.9k- bike 180.2 km – 42.2k run) even the name of the race called iron “man” although a lot of women participate in it each year. This will take years!
Finally, on International Women’s Day, what message would you like to send young girls who also want to be athletes when they grow up?
I would like to say for the ladies who want to be athletes never say “I can’t do it” we all got tired at the beginning but with time and training you will be champions and even you didn’t started in young ages. Never let the feel of fear decide decide your future.