Parkour Champion: Mohammad Al Atar
Last year, Mr James May of Top Gear (the hilarious, sporadically racist car show) sent two parkour athletes competing against a champion bike rider. The challenge was to reach the top of the closed down BBC Television Centre in London. The bike won. Even though Top Gear didn’t learn much from the incident, we did. This meant that when we threw a challenge, at the man called Mohammed Al Attar or Double Trouble (depending on your proximity to hip hop/parkour lexicon), it was much simpler. The Kuwaiti parkour athlete had to train and run, jump, vault, climb, swing or roll with a bunch of over-enthusiastic men from Rampur – free-runners like Mujahid Habib who learnt the sport from Bruce Lee movies before they even knew what it was called.
And the race wasn’t going to be as much a race as a training session, organised by Red Bull. Spread over four days, it included everything from jumping through tilled orchards, running on train tracks, performing aerial twists, handstands and jumping off bridges. But an even bigger story is the place where this run was taking place. Rampur, Madhya Pradesh. It’s precisely the sort of dusty Indian town that reams could have been written about. The sort of town where day moves into the evening and merges uneventfully into the night. Place courier companies continue to confuse with similarly named towns in UP or HP or the sort of a place where broken hearted strangers break their journey to rediscover themselves. Only something’s been stirring of late – Rampur, which might have still not managed its own train station, has fast grown to have the highest concentration of Parkour athletes in India.
But enough about the setting, Mohammed Al Attar has won the Urban Jump in 2010 and his team won the third spot in the Art of Motion and is running with a bunch of Rampur free-runners including Mujahid Habib, a local Rampur boy who won the Indus Trail last year.
“I fell three times during the video shoot. The first time I wasn’t focussed and fell from a one metre height. The second time I was attempting a 720 aerial twist (two consecutive 360s) and was slow in the spin. The third time I was hanging on a wall and a part of it broke loose,” Al-Attar laughs.
FHM: Was the course a particularly gruelling one for you?
Al Attar: The design of the buildings is perfect for parkour, the only problem is you can’t trust the walls because they can break any second. I come from a country where we have dry heat, Rampur was very humid which makes it difficult when doing a physical activity like Parkour.
FHM: Were there any obstacles that proved to be especially tough?
Al Attar: A part of the run involved running inside a dark building where we could barely see anything. Another place was the King’s old property where the risk of injury was very high because the drops were immense.
FHM: What did you think about the competition from the Rampur Boys?
Al Attar: I actually met many of them at the Indus Run in Mumbai last year and it was great to see how they have managed to develop in such a short span of time. I was really impressed with them, they all have their unique style and the way they approach the course.
FHM: How confident did they seem?
Al Attar: Most of them were very confident in their skills and abilities. Yet, some of them just weren’t ready to try on new things. Maybe it was because we were performing on concrete, and there is no room for mistakes on it.
FHM: Do you have any tips for boys who want to take on Parkour?
Al Attar: Respect your bodies and never skip a recovery period. Also, never copy someone else’s style, because you will only be the worst version of that person.
FHM: Compared to other countries, how would you rate the competition Rampur?
Al Attar: There are still no training facilities here, but what these guys from Rampur have managed to accomplish is really special. I think they are definitely the top in the region.