Dubai: Khadija Mohammad, the UAE’s only weightlifter at the Olympics, hopes her participation at the sporting extravaganza will inspire a nation making its debut in the event.
Fresh from returning from a training camp with coach Najwan Al Zawawi, Khadija spoke to press at the new premises of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare on Thursday.
And it was clear she was overwhelmed by what she has achieved.
“This is a dream for me to be at the Olympic Games,” she said.
“When the UAE team came fifth at the Asian Championships in South Korea and qualified for the London Olympics, a sense of disbelief swept over us.
“All the hard work, all the pain, all the sacrifices and the several hardships we have endured in gaining this slot for London have been worth it.”
Khadija, who will compete in the women’s 75kg category, was selected by the Emirates Weightlifting Federation to fill the individual slot earned by the team after their fifth-place finish in Pyeongtaek, South Korea in the first week of May.
“I go to London with the sole desire of making a statement on behalf of women from the UAE and the Gulf countries,” she said.
“I realise the importance of what I will achieve by just being there at the Olympics, where the attention of the entire world will be on me.
“We are a young team of lifters and I am confident we have a bright future lying in store for us.
“We have made a great start, and I am sure my presence in London will inspire many other young girls to come forward and take up this sport.”
EWF President Sultan Bin Mejren said he was proud of what his squad had achieved in just three years together.
“Ours is a young squad and we’ve had to work hard without the resources that other sports receive. The only resource we had was the desire to succeed and create history,” Bin Mejren said.
“If you ask me about goals, then I feel that qualifying for an Olympic Games in a matter of just three years is like a medal for weightlifting. The way ahead is long and we are prepared to go the distance.”
Bin Mejren added that he was pleased with the manner in which the UAE gained a qualifying place.
“The technical staff at the EWF did a fantastic job in fast-tracking this sport,” he said.
“They paid attention to events that would give us a better chance of qualifying. It simply means that we have been doing something right over the past three years.”