Meet Spinghar Kochai, a true epitome of determination and passion within the Luiss Atletics Team UnipolSai

  • 6 maggio 2024

Hailing from Afghanistan, Spinghar Kochai is an athlete who defies all odds with his unwavering spirit. Just a month after his marathon debut, we had the privilege to sit down with him and delve into his remarkable journey, tracing his path from his humble beginnings to the remarkable road that has led him to where he stands today.

How do you balance student and athlete commitments in your dual career experience at Luiss?

Well, to balance study and athletic life actually is not very easy, it needs to be very disciplined, you should be very disciplined to do everything at the right time. And for that, actually I learned at my high school, because I had to do everything on the right time, I had a lot of work at that time, so I didn’t have anytime to do it another day. And of course in Luiss there is a more serious education system, so here whenever I have projects or exams, I have to be with my friends, so for that it’s a little bit of a challenge for me to go training or to participate with my team to do training together when I have exams, but I’m going to do it every single day.

Last March, you ran the Rome Marathon, achieving an excellent placing. How did you prepare for it?

Well, I actually I was looking forward to do my first marathon in Rome, because it was kind of my dream. And for that we were training together with Luiss Athletic Team UnipolSai at least three times in a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So here I would like to thank my coach Casimiro, coach Emilio and of course also would like to thank UnipolSai for supporting us. So basically we were three times in training, as I said Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but that training it was not enough for me to prepare myself for the marathon, so it was very short for me because we were doing 300 meters, 400, but many times, so I asked the coach if he could help me to prepare to the marathon. I would like to thank him, because he gave me advice on how to prepare, how to cure my food and water, and nutrition. So I started to prepare for the marathon in the very last month and it was very challenging for me because each day I was running like at least 25 kilometers, 20 kilometers, sometimes 30, and whenever I finished my training I was coming home, but instead of resting I was studying and it was hard for my because my body was so tired. And so when the day came, the marathon day, before the day, I was so excited I slept less than 3 hours. When I arrived there I was in the first line and when I heard the shot of the gun I started at a very high pace to avoid the crowd, but unfortunately, as I said, after 20 minutes I felt that something was bothering in my foot and I had to stop during the marathon. I stopped and I looked at my foot and I saw that there was blood bleeding, but there was no choice for me to stop so I had to continue, because I prepared for the marathon one month very hard, so I just continued and when I crossed the line I was very proud of myself.

What emotions did you feel while participating in the Iulia Run together with Luiss Atletics Team UnipolSai? What motivated you to participate and what feelings did you have during and after the run?

Actually It was one of the best experience for me in Italy, it was my first time to do the relay race with my team, because usually when I’m running I’m doing competition alone, of course it is really good also, but to do it with Luiss Athletic Team UnipolSai, with my team, the feeling is different. We were putting effort together, we were running together. Also the best thing was to run and to do the competition with all the ages, from the high schools to the Luiss students and non-Luiss students, there was a great atmosphere and we had a really great experience there. To represent Luiss University and to celebrate together in the end gave us the motivation and courage to do more to represent Luiss everywhere in the world.

Based on your personal history, how do you think your past experiences prepared you to face the challenges as a student-athlete at Luiss? What lessons did you learn from your growth in Afghanistan and your experience in Turkey?

Actually I think I’m lucky to be born in Afghanistan. Of course it is not easy to leaving to Europe because it is a land where there was the war for more than 45 years, but we were not people living in the city center, or we were not people to have a great life, we were village people, we were nomadic people. Living in Afghanistan prepared me to many challenges, when we were living in village, we had to wake up so early because we had animals, we had to cure them, and also at that time I was a shepherd, not only me but my family had like 100 sheep, so I had to wake up so early and I had to manage all of them. I was running behind them with my dogs. To be a shepherd gave me a really good experience because when the animals are hungry you can feel sad but when they eat enough and they’re not hungry you feel happy even if you’re hungry. So what I understand from there is empathy and understanding. So as I am Luiss running team, of course I’m doing a lot of competition alone, but when I do a competition with my team, with my brilliant team, I’m feeling more happy because I’m not the only winner, we are all the winner if I’m representing the team.

When I moved to Turkey it was also challenging for me to adapt to the new cultures and learn the language, but I learned a lot of things there. So when I started my running it was a lot of challenges for me to manage everything, some problems in life, but it taught me a lot of things like to be resilient, to be patient, and also to have a dream. This is the reason why I’m here, because I had a dream to be here. To be here is a great chance, when I won the scholarship to study in Luiss it was one of the happiest moment for me and convinced myself that I could achieve more things in life.

What are your goals and ambitions for the future in athletics and how do you plan to achieve them during your time at Luiss?

My greatest motivation is my team: when we are winning together, it is my great motivation to see my team and my friends supporting me, and of course a great motivation is to represent Luiss everywhere proudly also thank to the partnership with UnipolSai which is supporting us. And of course to give encouragement to my friends, to my team, and also to Luiss Sport.

As I am an athlete, my goals, my dream in the athletic world is to become a world champion because I believe that success is not about the colors, is about hardworking and discipline. And I can confidently say that it won’t be very easy, it’ll be very hard I know, but I believe that I can become a world champion one day and my dream is also to be representing my University Luiss and my country. But of course I also really want to develop myself in the academic career too, I’m really interested in being a businessman.