Sport | Other Sports

Bodybuilders get hero's welcome

The triumphant UAE national body building team arrived to a warm reception at the VIP lounge of the Dubai International Airport on Tuesday.

  • By Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:03 July 23, 2008
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Karl Jeffs/Gulf News
  • Members of the UAE body building team pictured at the VIP Majlis at Dubai Airport. The team received a warm welcome on returning from the Asian Body Building and Fitness Championships with five medals, including three golds.

Dubai: The triumphant UAE national body building team arrived to a warm reception at the VIP lounge of the Dubai International Airport on Tuesday.

The team were received at the airport by Osama Al Shafar, president of the Asian Body Building Federation and the UAE Body Building Association, along with Jamal Bin Hadid Al Muhairi, vice president of the UAE Body Building Association, and Hussain Al Saffar, general secretary of the UAE Body Building Association.

On Sunday, the six-member UAE body building squad scooped up five medals, including three golds at the end of the Asian Body Building and Fitness Championships that concluded at the Tseung Kwan O Sports Centre in Hong Kong.

Al Shafar, who had also travelled with the team to Hong Kong was pleased with the best-ever performance from a team representing the UAE.

"This is way beyond our expectations. The entire sporting fraternity is so pleased with this medal haul. I have been getting phone calls throughout the day and this means people are taking the sport seriously," Al Shafar told Gulf News.

The UAE gold medals came from Isaq Ali (over 75kg juniors), Mohammad Al Zahmi (70kg) and Mohammad Ali (90kg) in the senior categories, while Ahmad Eisa Mattar took silver in the under 75kg and Ayoub Al Ammari bagged bronze in the 55kg seniors category.

The ABBF and UAEBBA president praised the study by Dr Ahmad Sa'ad Al Sharif, who had suggested pursuing individual sports by athletes from the UAE. "Dr Al Sharif is 100 per cent correct in his observations and today we are here to prove it," Al Shafar stated.

Looking ahead

"From my feedback, I know that the youths of the country have been excited with the performance of our body builders. We can expect the sport to grow even more now," he added.

Next on the agenda are two international competitions - the 1st Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia in mid-October and the World Body Building and Fitness Championships in Bahrain in November.

The inaugural Asian Beach Games in Bali, to be held from October 18-26, will have competitions in beach sepaktakraw, beach volleyball, body building, marathon swimming, jetski, beach soccer, beach handball, triathlon, sailing, paragliding, surfing and dragon boating.

"Maybe they will take a few days off now. But after that, they will start preparing for these two competitions," Al Shafar said.

Next on the agenda are two international competitions - the 1st Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia in mid-October and the World Body Building and Fitness Championships in Bahrain in November.

A lifetime achievement

Osama Al Shafar, the President of the Asian Body Building Federation, was bestowed with an honorary gold medal for his contribution to the sport by the legendary Ben Weider.

Al Shafar, who is also the president of the UAE Body Building Association, has been attributed with the sudden enhanced interest in body building in Asia.

Ben Weider is the co-founder of the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB) along with his brother Joe Weider. Ben Weider was the IFBB president until he retired in 2006. Earlier this year, he awarded Al Shafar the lifetime achievement award at the Arnold Classic 2008. "It is such an honour for me and for the UAE to receive such a prestigious honour from a legend like Ben Weider," Al Shafar told Gulf News.

Gulf News