London: This was the moment she was waiting for. Pitted against the 12 best lifters in the women’s 75kg category, UAE teen Khadija Mohammad remained unshaken.
“I have waited for this moment all my life and I wanted to do the UAE proud,” Khadija told Gulf News after becoming the first-ever UAE woman to participate in weightlifting at an Olympic Games.
“I would never trade this feeling for anything else in the world. This was my time to do something for my country and I think I did the UAE proud. There is nothing more than this feeling and I want to go on and bring medals for my country,” she added.
Just 17 and yet, Khadija had the officials and other competitors talking about her easy-going attitude. “I have age on my side and I will do anything to be at the next Olympics,” Khadija smiled.
“I have lived this moment and now I want it to be part of me so that I can use it as a platform to build a career in weightlifting and also encourage other girls to take up to this sport,” she added.
A top official of the Emirates Weightlifting Association (EWA) has, on the sidelines of event, appealed for support to the government for enhanced support to ensure the UAE can consolidate its position in weightlifting.
Faisal Al Hammadi, General Secretary, EWA said: “We need some sort of support. It can come from the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare or the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) or from any other body. The main thing is the weightlifting in the UAE needs the backing and support of all.”
Weightlifting in the country received a major boost after the UAE squad stood fifth overall to earn an automatic individual slot at the London Olympics. Khadija Mohammad was chosen to represent the UAE in the women’s 75kg category. The lifter participated at the ExCel Arena on Friday bettering her own record of 110kg with a total lift of 113kg.
“I admit weightlifting is a boring sport. There is no glamour surrounding it and it is difficult for us to sustain a sport like this. We need the encouragement to continue. The next four years are going to be crucial and it is during this period that we need all the support,” he added.
The official insisted that the country can go about laying a blue print and tapping young sporting talent provided there is support. “The athletes need all the support. They need the encouragement. I don’t want to promise a medal in the 2016 Olympics, but we can be more competitive if we have the support to start preparing from now itself,” Al Hammadi noted.
Referring to the Khadija Mohammad’s participation at the London Games, the official said: “She was the youngest of the 13 competitors. She was nervous at first, but she gained a lot of confidence just being here. She and other weightlifters need to have such exposures so that they can perform at a more competitive level.”