The UAE have picked a 12-member squad under the motto of “Determination and Perseverance” to represent the nation at the Tokyo Paralympic Games starting on Tuesday.
They are a mix of experienced veterans and new talent competing across five disciplines - athletics, shooting, powerlifting, wheelchair and cycling.
Leading the nation in medal bids are multiple Paralympic medal winners powerlifter Mohammed Khamis Khalaf and wheelchair racer Mohamed Al Hammadi along with the London Paralympic shooting gold medallist Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani.
The experienced female members in the squad are Noura Al Ketbi and Sara Al Senani, winners of a silver and bronze at Rio in the shot putt F32 and F33, respectively.
Completing the UAE contingent are Ayesha Al Meheiri, sisters Mozah and Maryam Al Zeyoudi, Ahmed Nawad, Abdulla Saif Al Aryani, Saif Al Nuaimi and Ahmed Mubarak Al Mansoori.
The first Emirati to go into action is Mozah Al Zeyoudi in the 55kg powerlifting and Al Ketbi in the club throw, both on Friday.
THE UAE SQUAD
Mohammed Khalaf Khamis, 53, (Powerlifter) Most experienced member of the squad and the first UAE gold medal winner. He has won two Paralympic golds and a silver. He first took part at Sydney 2000 where he finished fourth before striking gold at Greece 2004, then silver at Beijing 2008. He suffered a shoulder injury at London 2012 before bouncing back to clinch his second gold at Rio 2016. He will be one to beat in the men’s 88kg.
Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani, 51, (Shooting) Taking part in his third Games after winning gold at London 2012 and three silver medals at Rio 2016. He won two golds at the 2018 World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea. He will be gunning for medals in four events; men’s 10m air rifle standing, mixed 10m air rifle prone, mixed 50m air rifle prone and 50m rifle 3 positions.
Abdulla Saif Al Aryani, 45, (Shooting) Also taking part in his third Paralympic Games after Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016. He was fifth in the rifle 3 positions and eighth in the rifle prone at Rio. He competes in the same two events at Tokyo.
Saif Al Nuaimi, 43, (Shooting) His second Paralympics and will be hoping to improve on his performance at Rio 2016. He finished 14th in the mixed 10m air rifle prone and 25th in the mixed 50m rifle prone and is competing in the same two events in Japan.
Mohamed Al Hammadi, 36, (Wheelchair T34) Gold medallist at Rio in the 800m wheelchair T34 and finished just outside the medal round in the 100m. He claimed a silver and bronze at London 2012 in the 200m and 100m respectively. Has won three golds, nine silver and four bronze in the World Championships. He will be a force in the 100m and 800m once again.
Ahmed Nawad, 18, (Wheelchair T34) Youngest in the team is an understudy to Al Hammadi, also competing in the 100m and 800m.
Ahmad Mubarak Al Mansoori, 40, (Cyclist) Making his Paralympics debut and carries the nation’s hopes in the cycling road race.
Sara Al Senani, 28, (Athletics) Became first female Emirati athlete to win a medal at the Paralympics when she clinched bronze at Rio 2016 in the shot put F33.
Noura Al Ketbi, 28, (Athletics) Silver medallist in the shot put F32 at Rio 2016 and sixth in the club throw. She is aiming at a gold in the shot put and to make to the medal round in the club throw.
Ayesha Al Mehairi, 44, (Shooting) Competes in the mixed 10m air rifle standing and mixed 10m air rifle prone.
Mozah Al Zeyoudi, 28, (Powerlifting) Made her mark by finishing a creditable 10th in the World Championship in Dubai in 2014. She took part in two more World Championships in Mexico 2017, finishing 13th, and 10th in Kazakhstan 2019. Makes her Paralympic debut in the 55kg.
Maryam Al Zeyoudi, 26, (Athletics) She narrowly missed out in reaching the medal rounds at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, finishing fifth in both discus throw and shot put. She competes in the same events at Tokyo.