Local Sports

1,000 elite swimmers, 190 countries at Fina World event in Abu Dhabi

Ashwani Kumar /Dubai
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 29, 2021
Youssef Al Matrooshi and Layla Al Khatib with Husain Al Musallam, the newly elected Fina president. (Supplied photo)

The competition was once held in Dubai and its return in the UAE's 'Year of 50' makes it a special event in the Capital

Almost 1,000 elite swimmers from 190 countries are expected for the 15th edition of the Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) to be held for the first time in Abu Dhabi from December 16 to 21.

The competition will feature all four strokes — freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly — in both the men’s and women’s categories to be held at the iconic Etihad Arena on Yas Island, top officials said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The competition was once held in Dubai and its return in the UAE’s ‘Year of 50’ makes it a special event in the Capital.

Husain Al Musallam, newly elected Fina president, said top stars from the Tokyo Olympics would take part in the event.

“I am sure local swimmers will also be taking part in the tournament and make their country proud. I am confident about making it a distinguished event in the GCC,” Al Musallam said.

Aref Hamad Al Awani, secretary general of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We look forward to welcoming almost 1,000 elite short-distance swimmers from all over the world.”

Sultan Al Samahi, President of te UAE Swimming Federation, said the competition presented a huge opportunity to support growth of swimming and talents in the country.

“The standard of coaching has improved to the extent that we now have Emirati swimmers competing in major events on the world stage. We look forward to cheering on our own swimmers this December,” Al Samahi said.

Two Emirati wildcard entries — Youssef Al Matrooshi and Layla Al Khatib — were named as the first local athletes to be selected to face the elite international swimmers.

There will be two preparatory events for the national team which is likely to feature seven or eight swimmers.

The full roster will be announced by November. It is not clear if fans will be allowed.

“Presence of spectators is important but it will be finalised later,” said Abdulla Alwheibi, tournament director.

Meanwhile, Dana, the Hawksbill turtle was unveiled as the event’s official mascot.


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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