Dubai: The President of the UAE Federation for Special Needs Sports (UAEFSNS) has described the UAE’s gold medal at the London Paralympic Games as among the “biggest achievements” in the history of sport in the country.
Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani claimed the country’s first medal at the Games in the mixed R6-50m rifle prone-SH1 shooting competition on Tuesday.
Al Aryani, who had reached the final of the men’s R1-10m air rifle standing class on the opening day of the competition last Friday, had a final total of 694.8 to finish ahead of Spaniard Juan Antonio Reinaldo Saavedra and Great Britain’s Matthew Skelhon.
His achievement was heartily praised by Mohammad Fadhel Al Hameli, President, UAEFSNS. He told Gulf News from London on Tuesday: “When we compare this achievement with the size of the UAE, we can easily say that this is among the biggest achievements in UAE sport for a long time.”
“This medal is for the people of the UAE, and for everyone who is a true lover of sport, starting with our Rulers and leaders. This gold medal has not come easy but with a lot of hard work from the athlete and from the support staff,” Al Hameli said.
The 42-year-old Al Aryani was a regular competitor in shooting championships in the UAE and abroad until a motor accident confined him to a wheelchair a few years back.
The UAE shooter started off strongly in preliminary qualifying with scores of 99, 99, 97, 99, 100 and 98 in the six-round series to stay at the top of the table with a total of 592.
Saavedra gamely kept up his chase of the leader with a six-round series of 590, while Skelhon was third best with a six-round total of 589. But it was Al Aryani who reigned supreme after ending with a final score of 102.8 compared to 104.6 and 104.2 scored by his opponents from Spain and Great Britain.
“But our shooter already had a two-point cushion going into the final round and that eventually proved to be crucial,” Al Hameli pointed out.
“Gold is a just reward for all the hard work that has been put in by a fledgling sports country like the UAE. Our athletes were up against the best from other countries including the US, Great Britain, Australia and China. But we have proved to the world that we can be among the best through hard work,” he added.
Meanwhile on Monday, the UAE’s Thuraya Al Za’abi finished 11th in the F33/34/52/54 class women’s javelin throw with a throw of 12.85m. Birgit Kober of Germany had set a new world record by throwing the javelin to 27.03m, while her teammate Marie Braemer-Skowronek took the silver.
Shaikh Khalifa congratulates Al Aryani
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan congratulated Al Aryani on his gold medal victory in shooting in the London Paralympics.
Shaikh Khalifa extended his congratulations to Al Aryani, and the technical and administrative staff of the UAE delegation. He praised Al Aryani’s exceptional performance, and expressed his best wishes for the other UAE athletes participating in the Paralympics.
The UAE delegation dedicated their victory to Shaikh Khalifa, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, and the people of the UAE.