Top official sees a new era for UAE sport

Record number of athletes in London shows country is on the right track

00:00 July 12, 2012

Dubai: One of the top officials from the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) believes participation at the London Games will usher in a new era for sport in the country.

“This is a huge moment for us in the UAE to have a record 26 athletes in London for the Olympic Games,” Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Financial Director of the UAE NOC told Gulf News on Wednesday.

“This is just a start and we have a long way to go still.

“We will not rest on our laurels. We have a long way to go and we will do our best every time we participate in the future. The start has been made and this is a definite one for us. We are on the right track.”

All eyes are on the UAE shooting team, with Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum leading the way in the skeet, along with Shaikh Juma Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum in the double trap and Daher Al Aryani in the trap.

“If we take it by sport, then our best chance for a medal is shooting,” Falaknaz said.

“We can be confident of a medal in shooting going by our past performance when Shaikh Ahmad [Hasher Al Maktoum] won gold in double trap in Athens.

“I am sure we can build on this performance. Honestly, any medal would do as this would just assert the UAE presence at the Olympics.”

The UAE will has two athletes in the track and field events and one each in the women’s weighlifting, men’s judo and men’s swimming, along with the football team.

Falaknaz has high hopes for the football team considering the squad has been built over eight years.

“I hope we will do well in football. I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on our players, but if we can do something, then it would be great achievement,” he said.

“All we need is one draw and a win to qualify to the next stage, and from then on anything can happen.

“I am not being pessimistic and we can hope for a strong performance on the fact that we have done very well in the last four friendly matches that we have played in Switzerland and Austria where we have won two, drawn one lost one.

“This is a great experience for the players and an experience of being at an Olympics has given a push to our football. I hope the team will perform well.”