Dubai: Dubai youngster Saud Saif Al Shamsi became the first athlete to make the grade at the annual Dubai Fitness Championship, which got under way with the preliminary rounds earlier this week.
Faced with the task of bettering or matching a pre-set time, Al Shamsi was the first to finish with a time of 13 minutes, 58.40 seconds. He therefore became the first athlete to have a chance to qualify for the finals in the competition, which is being held under the patronage of Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
This year’s competition has several changes from that of the inaugural version that was open to Emiratis only last year.
The prize money for the winners in the men’s and women’s categories has been doubled to Dh200,000 each and athletes can have as many attempts at bettering their qualifying times in the preliminary stages.
The preliminary rounds for the second edition of the Dubai Fitness Championship got under way at various Fitness First Clubs in Dubai from August 18, and championship director Khalid Chookah is confident the annual event will go a long way towards improving people’s quality of life in the country.
“It is too early in the competition, but we have a local boy laying down the challenge for the rest of the field. With Saoud setting up such an impressive timing, we have achieved one of the primary goals of this competition, and that is to get the UAE community involved in this contest,” Khalid Chookah told Gulf News.
“I am confident that this year’s competition will be bigger and better.”
Since the opening of the competition last Sunday, the qualifying rounds will be held at official partners Fitness First Clubs at Mirdif City Centre, Oasis Centre and Knowledge Village. In addition, participants can take part in free training sessions at Fitness First in The Meadows.
Launched by Shaikh Majid last year, the championship is aimed at raising the awareness of exercise and health, while promoting the tenets of fitness among residents, especially among Emiratis.
The qualifying rounds of the championship will be held over a period of three weeks ending on September 8, leading up to the finals scheduled to be held at a specially set-up circuit on the Dubai Ice Rink at The Dubai Mall from September 12 to 14.
“Going from experience, I think it is way too early to put anyone as the favourite. The rush for qualifying will be seen in the final week when everyone will be trying to be one of 36 qualifiers making it to the finals to get a share of total prize money that has reached nearly one million dirhams this year,” Chookah said.
Telephone operator du is the main sponsor, while Dubai Sports Council is the official partner of the event. Registration can be done through website www.dxbfitness.com and entry fee has been set at Dh 80 per head, per entry.