Freeman Cebu Sports

A marathon of hearts sealed with a kiss

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman
A marathon of hearts sealed with a kiss
Afshin Ghassemi and his wife Hana sealed their milestone achievement finishing the London Marathon together with a kiss against the backdrop of the famous Big Ben with the rising sun on the horizon, as if drawing applause from the heavens above.

CEBU, Philippines — Taking part in the 2024 London Marathon just recently was something very special and deeply personal for Cebuano businessman-sportsman Afshin Ghassemi.

For the first time in his purpose-driven athletic journey, he ran a full marathon together with his wife Hana. 

With great resolve, they made it a unique date to remember - on the road.

Running side by side, the Ghassemi couple finished the lung-busting race passing through the streets of England s famous capital on a high note and then sealed their milestone achievement with a kiss against the backdrop of the famous Big Ben with the rising sun on the horizon, as if drawing applause from the heavens above.

 It felt so beautiful! Nothing beats the feeling of having your family share in your passion,  said Ghassemi, the president of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Alumni Association and at the same time chairman of his beloved alma mater s alumni basketball association.  I look forward to travel the world with my wife and conquer more events that will test out limits, physically and mentally.

Like any sport, marathon requires discipline, dedication, commitment, patience, mental toughness and conviction.

 It demands us to take risks and aspire for constant improvement and growth. Thus, it is a great teacher for life and how we should live it,  said Ghassemi, a highly accomplished multi-sport racer.

That s the underlying reason why he shared the gift of running and endurance sports in general to his wife.

Of course, it s always challenging as no amount of training would prepare one to breeze through that first marathon.

 Hana struggled with doubt that she could make it. This is where I came in. I took the job as coach or motivator. Running the distance of 42km is very intimidating. It requires not just physical strength but more importantly, mental toughness. I gave her the optimism that we have no limits and everything is possible once we put our hearts and minds into it, Ghassemi shared.

Thankfully, Hana passed her first acid test in a punishing long distance run, whereupon she has inspired so many of her friends and colleagues with her feat.

 This puts more meaning for her advocacy to live a healthy lifestyle. Hana is a doctor with specialty in internal medicine and subspecialty in medical nutrition. Her current interest focuses on sports nutrition as she wishes to advance athletes performance through scientific approaches. In fact, we will be opening a first of its kind sports performance lab in Manila next year that we hope will bring world class applications for Filipino athletes to excel in the world stage, Ghassemi continued.

Indeed, Ghassemi was doubly happy as he also hurdled his third Major marathon after successful runs in Berlin and New York last year.

Now, he only needs to conquer the remaining three Major marathons in Tokyo, London, Chicago, and Boston, the most difficult of all, for him to earn the prestigious Six Star Medal, which was was introduced by the Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2016 to honor the runners who complete all six Major marathons.

After two Ironman 70.3 events in Chattanooga, Tennessee next month and the Les Sables d Olonne-Vend e in France this June, Ghassemi will take on the Sydney Marathon in September before seeing action in his fourth Major major in Chicago in October.

It s a super loaded schedule ahead that entails a lot of sacrifice but it s all worth it for a man on a mission like Ghassemi.

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