Mohamed Al Hammadi raring to go at Fazza Para Athletics Grand Prix after 'very challenging year'

Former Olympic champion part of 48-strong UAE squad competing at the Paralympics qualifying event

Athletics - 2019 World Para Athletics Championships - Dubai Club for People of Determination Athletics Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - November 15, 2019 United Arab Emirates' Mohamed Al Hammadi in action at the Men's 800m T34 Final and setting a new Championship Record. Courtesy IPC
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Emirati Paralympian Mohamed Al Hammadi says he is “thrilled” to be back in action ahead of the 12th Fazza International Championships – Dubai 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix, which gets underway from Wednesday.

The four-day championship serves as one of the seven qualifiers for the Tokyo Paralympic Games and has drawn more than 600 para athletes from 63 countries at the Dubai Club for People of Determination stadium.

“After more than year of no competition it feels so nice to finally get to compete,” said Al Hammadi, who won gold in the wheelchair 800-metre T34 at Rio 2016.

“It has been a very challenging year with all major championships either cancelled or postponed. I’m really thrilled to be competing and put to test all my preparations in the build-up for Tokyo.”

Al Hammadi will head a 48-strong UAE squad that also includes Sara Al Senaani, who was the first Emirati female to win a Paralympic Games medal, when she took bronze in the Shot Putt F33 in Rio.

“I have been participating at Fazza competition since 2011, and it provided me the platform to go on and win a Paralympic medal for the UAE. So, I have good memories of this event,” Al Senaani said.

Siham Al Rasheedy, meanwhile, has set her sights on qualifying for a second successive Paralympics in the Discuss F57. She finished sixth at Rio, and looks at the championship in Dubai as a good opportunity to qualify for this summer's Games.

“This will be an important event for all the para-athletes to qualify for Tokyo,” she said. “For me personally, I want to get closer to my personal best (26.98m at Dubai 2019 Worlds). My target here will be to throw a distance of 26.50m and then build on it because it’s my first competition in more than a year.

“There will be pressure on me to perform and get back into the competition mode because I don’t know if I can go to the next competition in Tunisia due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation.

“Dubai has taken all precautionary measures and hope that this will be a good competition for all the visiting teams and the para athletics community.”