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Hard work pays off for UAE team

Latifa praises equestrian team for commitment as they take home silver medal

Morale-boosting jump
Image Credit: AFP
Shaikha Latifa Al Maktoum of the UAE rides Kalaska de Semily in the equestrian showjumping team event at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou yesterday.
Gulf News

Guangzhou : The UAE's second silver medal at the ongoing Asian Games was a result of hard work and commitment to a cause, according to members of the team.

"We were prepared for this day. Maybe no one took notice of this team because we are a comparatively young side, but we made it happen for the sake of our country. This is such a proud moment for all of us and our country," Shaikha Latifa Al Maktoum told Gulf News after the UAE took the team silver in the equestrian jumping at the 16th Asian Games here yesterday.

Down due to the withdrawal of one of their riders a couple of months before the Games, the young Shaikh Rashid Al Maktoum was drafted in at the very last minute. "And he did a commendable job today. We are a team and this medal is for our country," Shaikha Latifa added.

Yesterday's medal was an improvement on the team bronze won by the UAE in the same event at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.

The UAE's medal chase had been opened on Sunday after Shaikh Juma Bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum struck silver behind India's Ronjan Sodhi in the men's double trap shooting. But yesterday, it was a true team effort from the UAE quartet of Shaikh Rashid, Shaikha Latifa, Shaikh Majid Al Qasimi and Ahmad Al Junaibi as they triumphed in a tense jump-off against Hong Kong after being tied with 11 points at the end of the second round at the Guangzhou Equestrian Venue here.

Experienced quartet

The experienced quartet from Saudi Arabia led by Prince Abdul Aziz Khalid Al Eid claimed the gold medal, while Qatar had to stay content with the fourth spot behind Hong Kong.

Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain, Secretary General, UAE National Olympic Committee UAE NOC) told Gulf News that Sunday's shooting medal had given the UAE athletes the confidence to perform at a much higher level. "I am sure the UAE deserves more than just silver," the official said.

"I am confident our athletes will step forward, starting with our football team tomorrow, to fly the UAE flag high at such an important event like the Asian Games," Hussain added.

At the end of the second round, the UAE was tied in second place with Hong Kong at 11 points apiece, thus forcing a jump off to decide the silver medallist. With Samantha June Lam drawing eight penalty points in her first foray, it was a flawless course from Shaikha Latifa and Shaikh Rashid that clinched the silver for the UAE.

Pressure

"In a team competition like this, the pressure is simply too much to handle at times. So I just advised my brother to go out and ride for himself and the success would follow automatically," Shaikha Latifa said.

With the team competition out of the way, both horse and rider will now have to make maximum use of the one-day break and get ready for tomorrow's individual jumping competition.

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AP