Mohammed Al Hammadi is out to repeat his gold medal winning performance at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games when he gets on to the track in the World Para Athletics Championships in London on Thursday.
The Emirati meets the Tunisian world champion Walid Ktila in a re-match of the 800-metre wheelchair T34 category which he won in Brazil last September in a Games record time of 1 minute, 40.24 seconds.
He faces a formidable opponent, however. Ktila won back-to-back gold in the 100m and 400m T34 in which Al Hammadi took bronze and silver respectively.
“I have good memories of that win in Rio but it’s another race,” Al Hammadi said ahead of Thursday’s race.
“That result provides me the comfort and confidence but I respect Walid and the rest of the competitors in this race.
“I think I have done reasonably well in London and it will all depend on who is the best on the day. I would like to think the race will pan out for me, with a bit of good fortune on my side, hopefully.”
Al Hammadi, 32, has so far won the UAE's only two medals from the 15-member squad in London.
The Emirati dedicated the medals to teammate Abdullah Hayayei, the T34 javelin and shot-put thrower who was killed when a cage collapsed on him during a training session at the Newham Leisure Centre last Tuesday.
His funeral is scheduled to take place in Fujairah on Wednesday.
“This is for my brother Abdullah,” he said after winning silver in the men’s 400m wheelchair T34 category on Day 4 of the completion at the Olympic Stadium on Monday.
“The tragedy affected us. It affected the whole team, and we had to prove ourselves and perform our best to raise the flag.
“I have worked as hard as I could to do my best, whether I’m first, second or tird I’m raising the flag of the UAE.”
Al Hammadi is participating in four events in London with the 800m T34 event followed by the 200m T34 on Friday. Ktila also lines up in the 200m event.
The Tunisian won double gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in both the 100m and 200m T34 with Al Hammadi taking bronze and silver respectively.
Fast forward four years, and the Emirati got the better of Ktila over the longer distance in Brazil.
“We have been friends since we began competing against each other,” Ktila said. “Sometimes we even train together in Tunis or Dubai. I’m very happy he also got on to the podium.”
Meanwhile, Al Hammadi’s teammates Mohammed Fahad and Adil Al Blooshi both failed to get beyond the qualifying rounds in wheelchair T54 100m and 200m heats respectively on Tuesday.