15-year old Dubai English Speaking College student, Robert Sproul, has the world of UAE athletics in a spin following a scintilating performance at a recent athletics event.
Sproul left the experienced field of adults trailing in his wake to clock a lightning fast time of 1:59.00 in the Super Sports ABRaS event at Dubai American Academy on May 30th.
Following a little bit of Google stalking, we discovered Robert is far from a one trick pony when it comes to sport, so we decided to track him down by doing what any respectable news publication would do; facebook messaging his Mum.
Thankfully Mum, Helma, gave us the thumbs up and connected us with the rising star, allowing us to get the lowdown on that 800m time, his other sporting endeavours, and also his long-term goals.
Jack of all Trades...Master of Quite a Few!
When he's not blazing a trail round the tartan track for Desert Road Runners, Ultimate Athletics or Al Wasl, Robert can be found scoring tries for the DESC u16A Rugby Team and smashing sixes for DESC's u15A and u19A Cricket Teams.
Despite clearly being able to turn his hand to anything he fancies, athletics is Robert's main focus. We asked him where the passion for running stems from.
"I started running at the age of 10 years old in South Africa at my first ever school Sports Day. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the race and ended up winning the 1200m. Shortly thereafter I was approached by an athletics coach named Christopher Rodgers, the head coach of a small athletics club in our town, who suggested I join them and so I guess that’s where it all started. Back then, being a small village, we trained barefoot in the evenings running circuits through the streets and some nights even on the beach.
We moved to Dubai in 2016 and my first exposure to running here was with Desert Road Runners Predictor run at Kite Beach one evening. From there I was introduced to Ultimate Athletics Club which I then also joined and through Lisa Campbell of Ultimate Athletics I was approached to run for Al Wasl. By racing for Al Wasl I had the opportunity/privilege to compete in the UAE Presidential Cup, which was an incredible experience. It was only about two years ago that I ran my first 800m, and with my current coach, Amanuel Haile Mariam, this event has become my passion.
Looking back on the past 2 years, it’s funny now how things have changed from the barefoot running back home to spikes which I was only introduced to last year having won a pair at the DASSA Championship Finals.
Turning our attention to more recent events, we asked the South African protoge to talk us through his most notable achievements.
"Winning and breaking the 2-minute barrier in the 800m at last weeks ABRAS Track Series in the Mens A Division has to be my biggest achievement so far. This was especially exciting to me as I have been trying to break 2 mins in this event for the past year but have always fallen short by 2-3 seconds.
Also an amazing achievement for me would have been winning the RAK Half Marathon School relay for the past two years with some remarkable people (Megan Dingle, Ellie Walters and Cerys Dingle).
Another achievement I am particularly proud of was breaking the DESC High Jump Record with a jump of 1.84m."
So what's the next Goal on the Horizon?
"As for the future, my focus now is on completing my GCSE’s in the next year and to focus on the 800m. My dream is to get a running sponsorship in the future and to be able to get a sports scholarship to race in the United States when I finish school with the hope of performing at World Championship level one day."
Any top tips for aspiring athletics stars?
"Dubai has really opened up so many possibilities to me within sports and with all the clubs, events and talent out here, with focus and dedication, I believe anyone can make their dreams come true. My favourite quote reflects this mindset, and keeps me focused and motivated."
‘You are your only limitation and that if you believe in yourself you can do it!’
Outstanding work and wise words from one so young. Keep it up and we have no doubt you'll achieve your dreams Robert.
Congratulations from everyone at GYS!