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• ALSO: Schedule for UAE athletes
The 2016 Rio Olympics begin on August 5, and the UAE will be sending 13 athletes to compete in multiple events, such as judo, shooting and weightlifting.
Here is an introduction to those who will represent the Emirates in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.
AISHA AL BALOOSHI
Event: Weightlifting (Women’s 58kg)
• Recipients of an unused quota from the International Weightlifting Federation, the Emirates Weightlifting Federation have picked Al Balooshi to represent the country at the Games due to her experience and her performance for the UAE team at the Asian Championships in April. Al Balushi, 24, is now hoping to make the country and her teammates proud with a good show at the Games.
Event: Athletics (Women’s 10,000m)
• Winner of the 10,000m gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the 2015 Asian Championships in Wuhan, China. Her time in Wuhan was 31:52.29, but Alia has improved her personal best to 31:10.25 since. She will need a considerably greater improvement in her time if she hopes to achieve her dream of winning an Olympic gold, an improvement of almost 50 seconds or more, but it is not impossible. She has shaved almost 90 seconds off her personal best over the past three years.
Event: Athletics (Women’s 1,500m)
• Though she disappointed at the 2014 Asian Games, Desaleyn has been the queen of the 1,500m and 5,000m in Asia, winning the double in both the 2013 Asian Championships in Pune and the 2015 Asian Championships in Wuhan. She also won the 1,500m-5,000m double at the Asian Indoor Championships in Doha earlier this year and now the challenge will be to carry that success to the Olympic stage. She finished 33rd in the 1,500m at the London Games, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
Event: Judo (Men’s -100kg)
• Winner of a bronze for the UAE in the half-heavyweight (100kg) class at the 2014 World Championships in Russia, Remarenco, who turns 28 on August 7, will want nothing more than a medal for a birthday gift. This will be his second appearance at an Olympic Games, but his first in the UAE colours — he represented his country of birth, Moldova, in 2012 London.
KHALED AL KAABI
Event: Shooting (Men’s double trap)
• A first warrant officer with Abu Dhabi Police, Al Kaabi took up the sport of shooting a little over two years ago, but he showed few nerves as he edged Kuwaiti veteran Fehaid Al Deehani — a bronze medal winner at the 2010 and 2012 Olympics — in the double trap gold medal matchup at the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition in New Delhi in February. Al Kaabi does not seem too worried about the competition in Rio as well and that happy-go-lucky attitude could just prove to be an asset in Rio.
NADA AL BEDWAWI
Event: Swimming (Women’s 50m freestyle)
• Last year, Al Bedwawi made history alongside Alia Al Shamsi at the World Championship in Kazan, becoming the UAE’s first female swimmers to take part in the Worlds. This August in Rio, Al Bedwawi, 18, will make history again when she becomes the first UAE female swimmer to take part in the Olympics. Al Bedwawi will be going to the Games as a wildcard and will be hoping to return a better swimmer from the experience.
SHEIKH SAEED BIN MAKTOUM
Event: Shooting (Men’s skeet)
• Sheikh Saeed has represented the UAE at every Olympic Games since 2000 Sydney, which means Rio will be his fifth consecutive Olympic Games. Winner of the skeet gold at the 2011 Shotgun World Cup and the 2006 Asian Shooting Championships, Sheikh Saeed brings a wealth of experience to the squad and he will be really keen to get that cherished Olympic medal, which has so far proved elusive.
Event: Judo (Men’s-81kg)
• Toma, born in Moldova like Remarenco, is also a strong candidate to win a medal for the UAE in Rio. The 29-year-old has the pedigree, having won a silver at the 2011 European Championships and a bronze at the World Championships in Paris that same year. This is his third Olympic Games as well (the first two as a Moldovan) and he has qualified for Rio as one of the top 22 eligible judokas in the world rankings.
Event: Judo (Men’s-73kg)
• Born in Moldova, Scvortov, 28, has won a number of medals for the UAE since changing his nationality in 2013, including two grand prix golds in 2014 and a silver in Havana earlier this year. He also won a bronze for the UAE at the 2014 World Championships and the country will be hoping Scvortov can match that performance in Rio, or, even better, improve on it.
YAQOUB AL SAADI
Event: Swimming (Men’s 100m and 200m backstroke)
• A regular podium-topper at the GCC Championships — he won three golds in the 2015 GCC championship and another in Dammam this year, where he created a new GCC mark — Al Saadi, 19, cannot wait to get to Rio and test himself against the best. The Al Ain club swimmer is also hoping to set a couple of new GCC marks in Rio.
SAIF BIN FUTTAIS
Event: Shooting (Men’s skeet)
• Bin Futtais qualified for the Rio Olympics last year when he won three shoot-offs on his way to the skeet gold at the 2015 Shotgun World Cup in Larnaca, Cyprus, defeating Sweden’s Marcus Svensson in the gold medal match. The qualification, however, did not stop him from giving off his best at the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition in New Delhi, where he clinched gold again. Given his form, bin Futtais, who also won gold at the 2013 and 2014 Asian Shooting Championships, will be going to Rio as one UAE’s biggest hopes of winning a medal.
Event: Men’s Road Race
• Mirza was one of the first from the UAE to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, earning his ticket to Rio after finishing second behind Iran’s Hossein Askari in the road race at the 2015 Asian Cycling Championships in Thailand. Mirza, 27, has been busy training overseas since and competing at events, and he would love to see all his hard work pay off in Rio. Mirza is the first Emirati cyclist at the Olympics since Ali Sayed Darwish at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
SAUD AL ZAABI
Event: Athletics (Men’s 1500m)
The 1500m runner was a late call-up to the squad. Al Zaabi has never competed at a world, Asian or GCC level
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