Shaikh Ahmad aims high

DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates shall field a “good team of sportsmen” at next summer’s London Olympic Games, with strong prospects in the men’s shooting and 200m, according to a National Olympic Committee official.

By Alex Leach

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Published: Fri 29 Jul 2011, 11:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:24 PM

Shaikh Ahmad bin Mohammad bin Hasher Al Maktoum fired his way to the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in the double trap discipline at Athens seven years ago, only to finish seventh in the same event in Beijing four years later. The 47-year-old, who competes in both trap and double trap, will be looking to recapture former glory then when he makes his fourth appearance at the prestigious, multi-sport showpiece in the English capital.

Meanwhile, there are also high hopes for sprinter Omar Al Salfa, 21, who surged home first in the 2009 Asian Championships at Guangzhou, China.

“We are a very young nation, but we have a gold medallist in the Olympics, whom we are very proud of, in our shooter Shaikh Ahmad bin Mohammad bin Hasher Al Maktoum,” explained Abdul Rahman Falaknaz at Thursday evening’s reception at the British Embassy here to mark the ‘One Year To Go’ celebrations until the opening ceremony.

“For all those who are competing in the shooting, be careful because he’s going to be there in London. We have a good team of sportsmen who are going to take part in this Olympics in London.

“We have swimmers and, in athletics, one of our athletes is number one in Asia and we hope that he will do us the honour of being in the final of the 200m at the London Olympics.”

Falaknaz commented that “Emiratis love London” and the city’s hosting of the forthcoming Olympics would only serve to make any potential visit there between July 27th and August 12th “extra special for us.”

He also praised how London seemed set to deliver an Olympics that didn’t lapse either logistically or monetarily, while staying true to its green, sustainable credentials.

“It’s a feather in your cap that you’re on time, within the budget – which is very important – and, even after that, you are going to dismantle and sell off some temporary stadia,” he added.

The consul general of Great Britain here, Guy Warrington, echoed those sentiments by insisting there was no reason to expect any other than a highly-successful sporting occasion at this stage of proceedings.

“The bottom line is we’re absolutely on track and we’re determined to stage the Olympics,” he said.

“All of the main buildings are built, the main infrastructure is in place and that’s with a year to go. I think we, the British nation, can be very proud of that.

“We will deliver on our promises that we made in Singapore. We will inspire the athletic world and we will make ourselves as a nation very proud.”

He continued: ““This is going to be the greatest show on Earth next year, but it’s also going to bring long-term, socio-economic benefits to the UK.

“The Olympic Park is regenerating a key area of London. It’s going to give a major economic boost to the East End of London. It’s employing 40,000 people, there are 1,500 companies involved, it’s going to create thousands of jobs and it may bring up to £2 billion in tourism into the UK.”

The UAE’s candidacy to one day follow in the footsteps of London and host an Olympic Games was mentioned fleetingly throughout the night, with Dubai thought likely to spearhead any prospective bid to the International Olympic Committee.

“Dubai is being considered as the UAE candidate in terms of a bid for the Olympics,” Warrington enthused.

“I think that would be a very good idea and – certainly, if that happens – we look forward to working with you and sharing our experiences of organising the Olympics with you.”

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