UAE eyes Olympic glory
Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the National Olympic Committee (NOC), will head the UAE delegation to the 2012 London Games.
The top official will be accompanied by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; Yousuf Yaqoub Al Serkal, Vice-Chairman and CEO of the NOC; Ebrahim Abdul Malik, Secretary General of the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare; Brigadier Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, NOC member and Chairman of the Shooting Association and Abdulrahman Ghanem Al Mutaiwee, UAE Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
“Our appearance in the 2012 London Games is the biggest of its kind in the history of the UAE, which underlines the great attention that the country’s sport has been receiving from our wise leadership,” Shaikh Ahmed said.
Shaikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, who will also spearhead the shooting squad, will carry the UAE flag in the opening ceremony.
The UAE flag will be officially raised at the Olympic Village on July 21. Abdulrahman Ghanem Al Mutaiwee will raise the UAE flag on behalf of the head of the delegation.
Mohammed Al Kamali, Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee and director of the official delegation to the Games hailed the efforts of the UAE embassy and the London office of Shaikh Mohammed for making the job very easy.
“The official delegation will head to London on July 25. But, Shaikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum and Shaikh Jumaa bin Dalmook Al Maktoum have already left. Dhaher Al Ariyani will reunite with the shooting squad on Wednesday.
The football delegation will head directly from Vienna to Manchester on July 21, and their first appearance will be against Uruguay at the Old Trafford on July 26.
The UAE shooters will start training from Tuesday and Shaikh Saeed will make his start on July 30 and 31 in the skeet.
Double trap shooter Shaikh Jumaa bin Dalmook Al Maktoum will start his campaign on August 2.
Dhaher Al Ariani, who will vie for honours in the trap competition, will open his campaign on August 5 and 6. The swimming competition will begin on August 28 as Mubarak Salem lines up in the 100m freestyle.
Humaid Al Darie, who represents the country in judo, will make his debut in the 66kg category on July 29 and weightlifter Khadija Mohammed will flex her muscles in the 75kg category on August 3.
The final appearance for the UAE athletes will be in the 1500m track and triple jump competitions through Mohammed Abbas and Elham on August 7.
“We are hopeful to represent our nation well at the international gathering,” Al Kamali said and he urged the UAE athletes to remain focused in order to live up to the expectations.
“It’s for the first time that we have three shooters besides judo and weightlifting in the history of the Olympic Games finals and this is an achievement by itself,” he said.
“We have so far covered 75 per cent of our target. Our plan when we took over in 2009 was to qualify for at least 10 athletes and right now there are eight players in the finals. We hope to increase the number to 15 by 2016,” he concluded.
UAE made its first appearance in the 1984 Los Angles Games. But the only achievement came through ace shooter Shaikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum who won the double trap gold medal in the 2004 Athens Games.
However, football and shooting are the only fields in which the country is hoping to establish its presence. In the meantime, 21 players have been short-listed by the UAE head coach Mahdi Ali to carry the country’s Olympic hope in the football competition.
UAE squadFootball: Ali Khusaif, Saad Suroor, Abdul Aziz Haikal, Mohammed Ahmed, Amer Abdul Rahman, Ali Al Amri, Ismail Al Hammadi, Hamdan Al Kamali, Ahmed Ali, Ismail Matar, Habbib Fardan, Ziyad Khamis, Adul Aziz Sanqoor, Omer Abdul Rahman, Rashid Essa, Mohammed Fawzi, Khaled Essa, Ali Mabkhout, Haboush Saleh, Saud Saeed and Dawood Sulieman
Shooting: Shaikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum (skeet), Shaikh Jumaa bin Dalmook bin Jumaa Al Maktoum (double trap), Dhaher Al Ariani (trap) in addition to Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hashr Al Maktoum (coach).
Athletics: Mohammed Abdulla Abbas, Elham Bitti
Swimming: Mubarak Salem
Judo: Humaid Al Darie
Weightlifting: Khadija Mohammed