Stjepanovic wins UAE sportsperson of 2012 vote

The 18-year-old swimmer from Abu Dhabi, who caused a sensation at the London 2012 Olympics, has been voted by readers of the National's website as the top sportsman of 2012.

Abu Dhabi-born swimmer Velimir Stjepanovic competes in the 200m butterfly semi-final at London 2012.
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Olympic swimming sensation Velimir Stjepanovic has been voted the UAE's Sportsperson of the year by readers of The National's website.

The 18-year-old sent a message to swimming's elite performers when he reached the 200-metre butterfly final at the London 2012 games, having qualified with what was, at that point, the fastest time of the year.

In our vote on, readers narrowly voted Stjepanovic the Emirates' sportsperson of 2012, winning the poll with just over 26% of the vote.

The Abu Dhabi-born swimmer, who represented Serbia at the Games, finished sixth in the final at the Aquatics Centre in London, having been third at the halfway stage.

It was a strong performance from the teenager, and came after impressive qualifying times that saw him finish half a second quicker than record-breaking Olympian Michael Phelps in the pool.

Runner-up was Paralympic gold medal winner Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani, who became only the second UAE Paralympic gold medal winner during the summer after winning the 50m rifle prone SHI1 event.

Al Aryani had been a member of the UAE shooting team until a car accident in 2001 left him paralysed below the waist, and spearheaded the UAE's biggest Paralympics medal haul during the games this year.

The Al Ain and UAE midfielder Omar Abdulrahman claimed third place in the public vote, at 21.7 per cent, narrowly beating his national team coach Mahdi Ali, who won 19.6 per cent of the support after leading the Under 23 side to the London Games.

In fifth place was Khaled Al Balooshi, who earlier this year became the first driver from the Middle East to win in the elite-class Top Fuel drag racing circuit in the USA.

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