LAU athletes do the university and Lebanon proud
Students continue to climb the leaderboards with the guidance and support of the university’s athletics division.
LAU athletes are getting ready to dominate the boards this semester after making a strong start to the academic year at championships both in Lebanon and abroad. “We’re ranking first in men’s basketball, men and women’s tennis, swimming and men’s football,” says Joe Moujaes, director of Athletics in Byblos. “Our men’s basketball team has performed exceptionally, dominating the Lebanese collegiate league for five years and coming in second, one point only short of first, in Serbia last year.”
LAU athletes enjoy a number of opportunities to travel and many benefit from fee reductions through athletic scholarships. “When I was a student, there were no athletic scholarships, no league games and certainly no physiotherapists at each game. The division has improved in so many ways,” enthuses Beirut campus Senior Athletics Coordinator Sabine Fakhoury, who together with Sami Garabedian, director of Athletics in Beirut, manages the needs of over 200 Beirut-based athletes competing in one or more of 15 teams.
“Our strongest teams this year in terms of performance are handball, soccer, women’s basketball, swimming, and track and field,” says Garabedian. “We try to make life as easy as we can for athletes, offering uniforms, transport for away matches and tournament opportunities.” In addition to participating in local friendlies and Lebanon’s University Sports Conference, the university is represented at an average of four foreign championships a year.
Among those traveling this year will be triathlon champ Mohamad Baghdadi. Following his win at the Lebanese National Triathlon Championship in November, he will represent Lebanon and LAU at the international games in Switzerland this summer. “I want to make it to the Olympics,” announces Baghdadi, an ardent sportsman since the age of eight. “Support for athletes is scarce in Lebanon. I benefit from an LAU scholarship and am using the skills I learn in class to seek sponsorship, but it’s a struggle,” adds the Business Management major.
Another beneficiary of an LAU scholarship is table tennis champ Nina Markarian. “The scholarship and the quality of the athletics division played a big part in my decision to study at LAU. They paid for me to compete in Rome and covered most of the costs for the Korea trip. I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise,” says Markarian, who also credits athletics with enriching her social life. “As a pharmacy student, I don’t have much time to socialize. Athletics gives you a chance to be part of something at university.”
Final year pharmacy student and competitive tennis player Kim Sadi, too, has great admiration for the athletics division and its dedicated staff. “They make sure we’re ready for our matches and get enough exposure and play in national university championships so we’re prepared for international tournaments,” says Sadi, who came in first at the latest University championships in Lebanon and second in Madrid. “What’s special about LAU is that they care about you as an individual and not just as a team.”
Visit the Athletics division website for more information and to apply for a scholarship.
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