Aussie star promises Abu Dhabi supershow as wakeboarding worlds reach big climax
The five-day event reaches a big climax in the UAE capital
Australian star Nic Rapa has promised a weekend super show at the 2019 IWWF World Wakeboard Championships in Abu Dhabi as the sport's biggest talents fight it out for gold medal glory.
The five-day event reaches a big climax in the UAE capital where the world wakeboarding elite have been in brilliant form this week, and Rapa, one of the sport's top professional athletes, says the best is yet to come over the next 48 hours.
"A lot of the guys I compete with throughout the year at pro events are here in Abu Dhabi, so it's definitely going to be a showdown between the riders who do this for a living," said the 22-year-old Aussie, who leads the way in the Open Men qualifiers.
"Everybody will be giving it a red hot go, and it's going to be a great weekend for spectators."
Rapa, who splits his time between Sydney and Florida where he has just built a home, is relishing the battle with fellow-Australian Tony Iacconi, Japan's Shota Tezuka, Britain's Luca Kidd and Italian Massimiliano Piffaretti, gold medal winner at last month's ANOC World Beach Games
They are among the leading professionals in action in Friday afternoon's Open Men quarter finals, with the semi-finals and final to follow in a spectacular Saturday programme at Abu Dhabi's Eastern Mangroves Promenade.
UAE captain Khaled Subaa and team-mate Omeir Saeed, who have gained valuable experience at the top level this week while giving a good account of themselves, faced a challenge to ensure progress later today in the last chance qualifiers.
Rapa had words of encouragement for the six-strong UAE team, and was glowing with praise for championship hosts Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, and the way competitors have been received in the capital.
"It's awesome to see a UAE team competing, and it's great to see how invested the Abu Dhabi locals are in the sport," he said. "Abu Dhabi is an amazing place. It's blown all of my expectations, coming here for the first time, out of the water. They've welcomed us with open arms"
"The key for the UAE guys is to work hard, and enjoy themselves. It's time on the water that's going to make them better. I've been wakeboarding for eight years now and I ride twice, sometimes three times a day."
Competition among the top female athletes is just as intense, and another of Friday's highlights will be the Open Women semi-finals, with 19-year-old Italian twins Alice and Chiara Virag back in action after both topping their qualifying heats.
After leading the qualifiers, Australian Zahra Kell has her sights firmly set on gold medal, while World Beach Games winner Sanne Meijer is aiming for back-to-back major titles.
In today's earlier last chance qualifying action, the riders to go through were American Chad Lowe (Over 40 Veteran Men), Mexican Jorge Garizurieta and Brazil's Felipe Miyamoto (Over 30 Master Men), along with Colombia's Manuel Torres Gaviria and Italian Mattia Del Fiandra (Under 14 Boys).
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