Kamal Bahamdan is as passionate now about horses as he was as a child. Notwithstanding his recent marriage and his many business commitments, riding and horses are as essential to him as the air he breathes.
Born in Riyadh on 12 February 1971, Kamal began riding at the age of seven. His father, a successful Riyadh financier, encouraged his son’s interest, and his outstanding talent and commitment were soon evident. ‘If that’s what you want to do, do it well,’ advised his father. Kamal pursued his studies with equal determination, and admits he has an affinity with figures and finance. After high school in Riyadh, he went to Boston University to study Manufacturing Engineering. He took with him his own horses and graduated in 1994. As a teenager Kamal competed in – and won – local show jumping events, where he soon ran across his contemporaries, Kaled Al Eid and Ramzy Al Duhami. A lifelong bond was formed, one which forms the backbone of the Saudi Equestrian team.
While studying in the USA, Kamal took part in the East Coast Circuit. It was during this time that he came to the attention of Ziyad Abduljawad, now the Managing Director of Saudi Equestrian. Ziyad, who was then also riding competitively, was on the lookout for top-class riders for the team. A phone call was made and Kamal took the next plane to California to meet him. His place in the team was assured.
After leaving the US Kamal moved his horses to Europe. He now keeps them and trains at Valkenswaard in Holland. Kamal has trained with some of the greatest names in equestrian sport: Anne Kurinski, Bernie Traurig, Nelson Pessoa, Paul Schockemöhle and, most recently, with Jan Tops in Holland, as well as with Saudi Equestrian team trainer Stanny Van Paesschen. He has competed in four Olympic Games, three World Championships and three Pan Arab Games, in the latter winning four team gold medals and one individual gold.
Kamal’s sporting life has taken him around world, training and competing, as has his life as an entrepreneur. In 2009 he founded the investment company Safanad, and is currently CEO of the Bahamdan Group, a global investments conglomerate. From April 2010, he took a sabbatical from business to concentrate on training for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and in December 2011 notably helped the team to the gold medal at the Arab Games in Doha, and the following week to qualification for the London Olympics. In London Kamal had an outstanding games finishing fourth in the individual competition and winning a bronze in the team event. He is deeply patriotic and all hopes of winning are focused on his country and his team, not from egoism and vainglory.
To cope with the demands of business and the pressures of competing – as well spending precious time with his wife and family and pursuing other sports dear to his heart – means Kamal has to be supremely well organized and maximize his time efficiently. His brain and body are in harmony, his schedule itemised to the last second, and his focus strong. He has a good grasp of the psychology of winning and understands well the relationship between discipline, motivation and success, both in business and in sport. “Success is about fulfillment,” he says. “It’s all about achieving personal goals, in sport or life in general… one is only successful if able to fulfill one’s personal goals while finding a fine balance in all other important aspects of life, which is a goal in itself.”
But for Bahamdan, a day when he is not in the saddle, even for the shortest time, is somehow incomplete.
2012 London Olympic Games • Bronze Medal in the Team Competition • 4th as an individual on Noblesse des Tess
2011 Pan Arab Games, Doha • Gold Medal in the Team Competition
2010 World Championship, Lexington • 64th as an individual on Cezanne 30 • 8th as a team on Cezanne 30
2008 Olympic Games, Beijing • 54th as an individual on Rivaal • 13th as a team on Rivaal
2006 Asian Games, Doha • Gold Medal in the Team Competition
2006 World Championship, Aachen • 74th as an individual on Campus VIII • 22nd as a team on Campus VIII
2004 Tenth Pan Arab Games • Gold Medal in the Team Competition • Gold Medal in the Individual Competition
2004 Olympic Games, Athens • 43rd as an individual on Casita
2002 World Championship, Jerez de la Frontera • 53rd as an individual on Casita • 18th as a team on Casita
2000 Olympic Games, Sydney • 65th as an individual on Chanel
1999 Ninth Pan Arab Games • Gold Medal in the Team Competition
1998 World Championship, Rome • 34th as an individual on Chanel
1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta • 76th as an individual on Missouri • 18th as a team on Missouri
1992 Seventh Pan Arab Games • Gold Medal in the Team Competition