UAE’s Obaid Al Jasmi (extreme right) flanked by the gold and silver medal winners from Japan in Nagoya on Thursday. Image Credit: Courtesy: Obaid Al Jasmi

Dubai: The UAE’s Obaid Ahmad Al Jasmi is targeting “a few more” after claiming a bronze medal on the opening day of the first Asian Masters Swimming Championships in Nagoya, Japan, on Thursday.

Al Jasmi, who will turn 37 next month, finished behind a pair of Japanese swimmers to take the bronze in the 200-metre individual medley at the Nippon Gaishi Arena.

The five-day competition targeting more than 1,000 swimmers from 19 Asian countries, is being co-hosted by the Asia Swimming Federation, Japan Masters Swimming Association and Japan Swimming Federation. “This competition has given me a new direction in pursuing my first love of swimming,” Al Jasmi told Gulf News from Japan.

“The question for any sportsman always is ‘now what’ after ending his competitive career. But with the Masters I have seen a new hope and a fresh challenge to excel at something that I have done all my life as a sportsman,” the 36-year-old from Al Wahda Club added.

A total of 18 events for men and women will be held over a five-day period till July 16 with Al Jasmi confirming participation in ten of the races. As per the schedule, the UAE swimmer will be involved in two races each day. Participating in the 400 metres freestyle, Al Jasmi found the going tough with a cramp pushing him further down the field to finish in seventh.

On Friday, he will start off in the 50 metres butterfly followed by the 200 metres breaststroke. “To think that I could be competitive and land a medal in my very first race is a huge comfort to my confidence,” the swimmer related.

“I have another four days and eight races still to go and I can sense that I can win a few more medals,” he added.

Al Jasmi has represented the UAE at two Olympic Games, in 2004 in Athens and Beijing four years later. But the country opted for younger faces at the 2012 London Games and Al Jasmi stopped swimming for a while. He also represented the country at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games.

In addition, Al Jasmi has been one of the standout swimmers for the country with at least eight national records to his name. “I had started training before Ramadan, and by the time we reached Eid I was feeling in good shape. The authorities took too long to get back to me on my entry for Japan despite being informed well in advance. By then I had stopped training, and when they actually cleared my trip I had less than ten days to get ready for this competition,” he said.

“I think I will hit peak form as the competition progresses. I feel I still have a lot to offer and the idea will be to return with a few medals,” Al Jasmi added.