Dubai: Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum says the UAE karate team will be targeting the gold medal when they compete at next month's Asian Games in Doha.
"Our goal is to go to Doha and do our best. We have dominated at the Gulf and Arab levels, now it is time to move a step higher and establish ourselves at the Asian level," Shaikha Maitha told Gulf News.
"We may not have a rich a background in karate like some of the other countries, but we will have our eyes on winning the gold medal."
The eight-member UAE karate team, which consists of five male and three women karatekas, has been in full training at a four-week closed door camp in preparations for the December 1-15 Games.
The UAE women's squad, led by Shaikha Maitha and Heba Harmoush in the Kumite and 13-year-old Haya Juma in the kata competition, is currently training with members of the German national team who have been flown in specifically as sparring partners.
The German team, which consists of coach Christian Gruener and team members Sabine Schneider (Kata), Silvia Sperner, Ulrike Fleischmann, Jeannine Herrgesell and Maria Musall (all Kumite), arrived on Thursday and commenced sparring with the UAE team on Friday morning.
Shaikha Maitha stresses that there will be no excuses for not winning a medal in Doha.
"We have the quality and we should come home with medals," she said. "However, I am confident we will do well at the Asian Games. These are the best fighters we have in the UAE at this moment, and each of them deserve to be in the team going to Doha.
"It is important to go with quality rather than quantity."
Shaikha Maitha also said she was aware that it will not be easy at the Games.
"We have to be realistic at this stage as the standard of all participating countries are almost the same," she said.
"But the UAE has emerged as one of the main medal contenders due to the determination we have shown in the past couple of years and because of what we have achieved."
Shaikha Maitha said they were leaving no stone unturned in a bid to be fully prepared for the challenge.
"In the end, it will be the small things that will matter," she said. "These things will be our fitness, determination, strength, technique and a attention to minor details. We have the talent to come back with medals." Shaikha Maitha also highlighted the role played by her father His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
"He is not just my father. He is a true sportsman and my best guide," Shaikha Maitha said.
"He is always there for me in all that I do. He keeps on reminding me of my goals, and no matter what, he is always backing me.
"He is even involved in our training and he keeps on setting realistic goals. I doubt we would have been able to achieve any of this success without him," she concluded.