DUBAI // A class apart in qualifying, Serbia’s Branko Petrovic proved too good for the competition in the final as well as he walked away with the top prize at the Fazza Championship for Freediving for the third time at the weekend.
Petrovic took the honours on Saturday night at the Hamdan Sports Complex with a time of 10 minutes, 14.66 seconds spent underwater, almost a minute longer than the runner-up, Goran Colak of Croatia, who clocked 9:16.18. Poland’s Mateusz Jan Malina was third with a time of 8:29.19.
There was a one-two finish in the GCC category for Omani brothers Omar and Abdulrahim bin Abdullah Al Ghilani. Omar was first in a time of 5:22.58 and Abdulrahim took silver with 5:19.01, while their compatriot, Khamees bin Abdullah Al Arimi, clocked 5:17.90 to complete an Omani cleansweep.
The UAE’s Saif Mohammed Al Tunaiji (5:12.74) was the only other participant in the regional classification to break the five-minute barrier, but the country’s juniors did a lot better with Saif Abdul Rahman Al Zarouni (2:54.99), Khalid Hashem Al Marzouqi (2:28.23) and Humaid Mohammed Al Marzouqi (2:01.73) clinching the top three positions.
“This win is thanks to my father, who practised the sport of freediving for years and has always encouraged and supported me,” Saif said.
“I thank the organisers for their support of these types of sports and for encouraging the next generation to participate as well.”
Petrovic, who was disqualified from the final last year for briefly leaving the rope, did not want to take any “chances” this time, and so was pleasantly surprised with his time.
“I honestly didn’t know that that was my time,” he said of his winning time.
“I actually had a feeling that my dive was a bad one. I thought to myself: ‘If I do around 8:30s, I’ll be second and that’s good’. But when I came out of the water, it was 10:14s.
“I didn’t want to risk it, so I’d have even been satisfied with a much smaller result. I’m very happy to have won the Fazza Championship for Freediving for a third time and I dedicate this victory to my family back at home.”
Omar Al Ghilani also dedicated his win to his family and “all of the Omani people”, as well as the organisers, the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre, “for giving us the opportunity to participate in this tournament, which symbolises the heritage of our forefathers”.
“It’s an indescribable feeling and my joy has been increased immensely by the fact my brother Abdulrahim finished on the podium with me in second place,” Omar added.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport