UAE's Olympic prospects

ALL of us are eagerly waiting for the Olympics extravaganza in the Forbidden City, beginning on August 8. The UAE have a splendid chance in the double trap with Shaikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, defending his title.

The double trap is a more sophisticated version of the clay pigeon shooting (double barrel). Two shots have to be fired one after another at the objects that are released into the air at some distance away from the shooter.

Being the fighter that he is, Shaikh Ahmed has been in serious training under a former Olympic silver medallist in shooting. Shaikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Asian Games medallist in Doha, will face tougher opponents in the bigger divisions of karate in Beijing.

The last Games saw the country pipped at the post by the US, in the medal tally. Japan and South Korea are next in line from the continent to be within a chance of finishing among the top 15 while Russia have a new generation of athletes who are struggling for finance. But the strength of their 'old' system is so good that even the present day athletes from there and the former 'Iron Curtain' nations, will produce medals in almost every event, on and off, the track.

As for the sub-continent, prospects are dim except for a fluke medal here or there, the only Olympic class athlete from the region in recent times has been Susanthika Jayasinghe. The Sri Lankan sprint queen won silver in the women's 200m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. In the actual race won by the drug tainted Marion Jones, Susanthika got bronze. The athletes from Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are world class. Most of them are intakes from Africa for the middle distances. The long distances will be an east African show once again.

Australia will as usual produce what they have, from the gains of the solid systems Down Under. The nation have the best tried and tested sports administrative setup in the world. Sheer self will, first-rate professionalism and the attitude of wanting nothing less than the best, makes them the most balanced sporting nation in the world.

The UAE have to learn from the Aussies. We cannot take for granted the support of the corporate world for sports, naturally so for a population which is way below the 30-million figure and has little room for sporting commercial ventures.

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