BEIRUT: By adding to his knowledge, multiplying his efforts, and subtracting his fear, 10-year-old Gabriel Abi Saad has won several UCMAS championships locally and worldwide.
Universal Concepts of Mental Arithmetic Systems (UCMAS) is an international concept focused on the cognitive development of children aged five to 13 years.
Abi Saad’s parents noticed his abilities way before his achievements.
“Since his childhood, Gabriel always scored high grades at school. Nevertheless, what was really special about him was that he never sought high grades, but was instead focused on knowledge. He always had the thirst to know more,” his father Mounir Abi Saad told Annahar.
In 2015, the UCMAS center in Lebanon distributed flyers at Abi Saad’s school. To nobody’s surprise, he decided to enroll in it.
Despite the pressure, he enjoyed the process and decided to challenge himself by participating in the Lebanese UCMAS championship, where he won first place.
Aiming higher, Abi Saad’s next goal was the UCMAS level 2 world championship, which was held in India. He recounts what he felt on the day of the competition.
“Minutes before the competition, I remember crying and having a stomachache. I was frightened knowing that 11,000 children were competing against me. My father held my hand and told me that it’s a game and all I have to do is enjoy it and give my best. His words relieved me,” he said.
Abi Saad won first place and came back to Lebanon holding the cup. He was honored on several events and ceremonies since he represented Lebanon among the 55 countries participating in the competition.
After a year, Abi Saad participated in the UCMAS world championship level 4 in Dubai and, again, he won first place.
He noted the secret behind his success.
“I believe that tomorrow’s victory is today’s practice. Before every competition I practice with more than 70,000 equations. I figured out that the more I practice the ‘luckier’ I get,” he told Annahar.
Abi Saad is inspired by the musician Johann Sebastian Bach who was passionate about both math and music. Thus, he divides his time between training at the center and taking piano lessons.
Abi Saad’s father believes that he knows how to invest his time in activities that help him develop. He also said that whatever he’s doing, whether it is studying or playing, he gives it his whole attention and focus.
His vision of the future is still vague, but his main goal is to keep on setting goals.
“The more I achieve, the more motivated I become to set higher goals. To achieve them, I rely on reading, practicing and praying. Reading helps me increase my knowledge, practicing makes me more confident, and praying gives me inner peace and diminishes my fear,” he told Annahar.
Annahar's "Faces of Lebanon" is an occasional series that takes a look at talented young Lebanese. We encourage you nominating candidates and telling us their story. Send your nominations to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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