We almost came out on top in the shooting category last Olympics in Sydney 2000. As the Games turn a full circle, will the UAE bag the gold this time in Athens? NOC General Secretary Ibrahim Abdul Malik Mohamed certainly hopes so.

By Faisal Masudi

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Published: Sun 8 Aug 2004, 2:27 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

"Last Games, Shaikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum was among the top 10 in the skeet shooting competition. God willing, this year, Shaikh Saeed and Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum will win the shooting category."

Two more athletes participating in the Olympics are Ali Mohammed Murad and Obaid Ahmed. Obaid will strive to lead the 800-metre race and hundred-metre freestyle swimming, respectively. The four aspirers are representing the Gulf nation, together with NOC delegates.

Mohamed revealed the travel schedule for the sportsmen, saying that the team will departure with some NOC officials on August 10. Other delegates will shortly follow and join them when the games begin August 13.

NOC, established in 1979, is comprised of 14 members who are responsible for overseeing the transition of local candidates from regional competitions all the way to the torch-bearing bonanza that takes place every four years. The Committee itself is under the auspices of the IOC, or International Olympic Committee. After a year of auditing, NOC was granted full-fledged membership to the Olympic watchdog, said the General Secretary.

"We were with the eight players of 1984 in LA," he recalled. The regulating body is independent of any government, Mohamed stressed. It works with private sport associations, organises events, and secures sponsors, among other responsibilities.

A delegate head, assistant head, director, coaches, doctors, technicians, and administrators constitute the representative body to the Olympic Village, the arena for the global tournament.

Mohamed stated that an exception was granted to the UAE - an extra "wild card" was reserved for Obaid. The other card went to Shaikh Saeed, owing to his history of high scores, the UAE citizen said. "He (the Shaikh) is a top-ranker."

Normally, only one card is allowed for one nation. The special permission to participate in the Olympics is part of the effort to include non-qualifying countries. "They (OIC) insist that every country participate even if no one qualified," the Committee official said. The other two candidates qualified the conventional way, however.

NOC, Mohamed explained, is indirectly involved with players. The appropriate board, federation, or association for each category corresponds with the Committee on the eligible participants.

"We have a programme and we have to follow it," he explained while describing what the sports authority does between the Games. "We participate in the selection of players, and contests. There are programmes for following their progress and evaluating them." Furthermore, questions about infrastructure, accommodation, and finance are some issues tackled by NOC. The Committee also has a say in the suspension of any contestant.

Mohamed continued with the list of their endeavours: "September 24, an Arab Tournament in Algeria. In December, Qatari national football, handball, volleyball, and basketball championships. 2005 West Asian Games, also in Qatar. And, of course, 2008 (Olympics) in Beijing."

The NOC is also involved in the task of financing the competitions as well, said Mohamed, who is also a member of the technical wing of the Asian Olympic Council, one of five continental "bodies" that constitute the worldwide phenomena. "Each ring in the logo represents a division," he said, "with the other four being the European, North American, South American, and Oceanas," The latter is a conglomerate of Australia, New Zealand, and 20-odd islands. "The presidents (of each body) meet once a year. There are two 'friendly' competitions in each category," the General Secretary pointed out.

Commenting on the prospect of Dubai playing host to the Olympics, Mohamed, this year's delegation head, said, "This is one of the toughest objectives to go after. These things aren't easy. It has to start step-by-step - regional, continental, and then global. We are in discussion with Dubai Municipality to sit together with Sports City, a private sector enterprise, to find out exactly the facilities they (currently) plan. OIC may request the Dubai government to build the extra sports facilities, and bring that whole area to the level of a complete Olympic Village."

"We are studying it," Mohamed (also Assistant Deputy of Ministry of Public Works and Housing) said, "and will reach a decision in the near future." The General Secretary stated his message to the Emarati youth: "In sports, nothing is impossible, with hard work, honesty, and by giving your best. He (the national hero) can achieve the Olympics by trusting the organising bodies."

"The youth of the UAE," said Mohamed in a request to the private sector, "need your support. As part of your duty to society, sponsor the youth and sports." Each NOC worldwide fights human-rights violations, and is committed to sportsmanship, the middle-aged official said. Mohamed has previously served as president in several groups, including UAE Bowling Congress, Arab Volleyball, and as General Secretary of the Al Ahli Sports Club. Delegation director to Sydney 2000, Mohamed loves deep-sea fishing and scuba diving. He said the arrangements in Australia were the "best" yet.

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