Dubai: The UAE’s Paralympic team returned home as heroes to Dubai Airport early Monday after a record-breaking Rio Games.
Seven medals including two golds represents the team’s best-ever performance at a Paralympics, beating the previous best of four in Athens 2004.
And shot putters Noura Al Ketbi and Sara Al Senaani became the first UAE women to win medals with a silver and a bronze respectively.
The 18-strong team of athletes – the UAE’s largest-ever squad – faced the press as they arrived, posing in front of a giant UAE flag.
The UAE’s Paralympic team make their way through Dubai Airport on Monday morning.
The victories for Al Ketbi and Al Senaani in the final stages of the competition capped a Games that saw the UAE ride a wave of success of start to finish.
Veteran powerlifter Mohammad Khalaf and 800 metre wheelchair racer Mohammad Al Hammadi were the highlights, each winning gold.
Sharp-shooter Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani provided the backbone, with three silver medals across various disciplines.
Then came the women, with Al Ketbi’s silver and Al Senaani’s bronze coming within 24 hours of each other on Friday and Saturday.
“UAE girls can achieve and accomplish anything if they have strong support,” said 23-year-old Al Senaani, who trains at the Abu Dhabi Club for Disability Sports.
“My family stood by me all the way and here I am with a medal.
“Their support gave me the courage to fight and accept challenges. If you have support, then we can break any barrier and move forward.