Emiratis have a crucial role to play in the future of sports

We need to create the right mindset and environment to attract, discover and encourage a new generation of talent

By Asma Al Janahi

Published: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 10:04 PM

As a relatively young country, we have achieved many notable distinctions in international sports, and we take pride in how far we have come in such a short space of time. We have even more potential for future success and, crucially, the infrastructure to achieve it.

From a 100km+ dedicated cycling track at Al Qudra to a world-class swimming facility at the Hamdan Sports Complex; the UAE’s sports community has at its disposal the best tools. Taking into consideration the top-level amenities (sportsmen can train almost the entire year in the UAE) and supportive community — it’s no wonder that we see an influx of athletes coming to train in our country.

It is on our shoulders, as the current generation of athletes, to inspire the next generation of the UAE to the podiums of the Olympics and international events. We already have the likes of Abdullah Sultan Alaryani — who won the country’s first gold medal in the men’s 50m rifle at Tokyo Paralympic Games 2021, and Mohamed Al Hammadi — who took silver in the men’s 800m T34 category, and bronze in the 100m T34, as shining examples our homegrown sporting heroes.

As a community, of teams, athletes, and authorities, we need to create the right mindset and environment to attract, discover and encourage a new generation of talent.

We can take inspiration from our leaders. I have personally seen His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, cycling, and attending races to support athletes, and he is himself a champion equestrian.

Sheikh Ahmad bin Mohammad bin Hasher Al Maktoum winning the UAE’s first Olympic medal in 2004 was a great milestone for the country’s history. It proved that a small country has limitless possibilities. Not that long ago, we didn’t even have any sports

federations. Today, there are several organisations within each sport category, which goes to show that we are heading in the right direction.

As one of only a handful of Emirati women that participate in sports such as triathlon, I’m passionate about involving more Emiratis in the sport. It’s a discipline that is for the body and soul, and inclusive of all abilities and age groups.

For me, my triathlon journey started from leisure cycling for a period of time, which then led me to enter my first race and it was “love at the first race”. I’m proud to have been selected by global brand Asics as their first Emirati woman ambassador, as it gives me an extra platform to promote the positivity of sports and its impact on mental health.

The future holds great plans for us as a nation, it just needs to be inspired and cultivated.

(The author is a triathlete and Asics FrontRunner, and the first Emirati woman to finish Ironman 70.3 five times and do three Ironman Middle East races in a single season)

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