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UAE plans medal assault at 2020 Olympic Games

Next generation of talent identified through NOC and P&G’s School Olympics

  • By Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 17:55 July 8, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News
  • Betlhem Belayneh Desalegn (middle) and Alia Said(left) are welcomed by Ahmad Al Kamali in Dubai yesterday. Betlhem’s success is to be built upon by the UAE with training programmes.

Dubai: The UAE has laid out a comprehensive programme that organisers hope will ensure the country’s athletes winning international medals by the 2020 Olympic Games.

“The medal target for the UAE is not less than ten years,” Wajdan Dakhooni, Corporate Communications Manager of the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) told Gulf News on Monday.

The UAE NOC is confident of the success of the crop of athletes who have already been identified with 2020 in mind. The NOC has been helped by the backing from multi-national company Procter & Gamble (P&G), who have vowed to continue to help discover sporting talent in the country.

Last March, the UAE NOC and P&G signed a one-year agreement to support the nation’s youth development programme through the launch of the inaugural UAE School Olympics in September, with the approval of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. That link-up has now been extended for another year.

The 2012 School Olympics saw more than 85,000 children from 128 schools aged between seven and 14 compete. Promising athletes have now been identified in six Olympic sports, including archery, shooting, fencing, swimming, gymnastics and athletics.

“By 2020 we are looking at athletes who will be in their late teens or thereabouts. We’ve got a development programme for these young athletes who have been identified already from last year, and they should be ready for the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond,” Dakhooni said.

“By the time they are 16 years old, these athletes will be ready for the Arab Games and then on to the Asian Games, after which they will be primed for the biggest stage.”

Yassin Attas, P&G Director of Communications for the Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, said: “We’ve seen the success of this exercise from its first year and we are keen to take it to the next level. We are proud to be able to support the UAE’s future generations of athletic stars and their families through the UAE NOC.”

Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid are the three cities in the fray to host the 2020 Games and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will elect the host city on September 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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