Dubai: The President of the UAE Athletics Association (UAE AA) has narrowed down on a pool of ten athletes in preparation for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta later this summer.
Ahmad Al Kamali, who is also a Council Member on the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), disclosed on the sidelines of the Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament that the UAE is in a position to field at least ten possible medal-winning athletes — seven men and three women — for this summer’s Asian Games jointly hosted by Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.
Three of the ten — long distance runner Alia Mohammad Saeed and middle distance athletes Saud Al Za’abi and Mayouf Hassan — are already in training and participation at high-level international meets. The remaining seven are in the UAE waiting for the Ramadan to conclude so that they can embark on a specialised training camp most probably to be held in Turkey later next month.
The distance runners have been training under the tutelage of former Moroccan Olympic and World Champion Saeed Aouita. “We have a programme prepared for all of them, but due to Ramadan we decided to allow some of them to be with their families. But this is the core group that will form the athletics squad for Jakarta 2018,” Al Kamali told Gulf News.
Missing yet another major competition for the UAE will be Betlhem Desalegn, who has reportedly been injured since before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. “She [Desalegn] is not up for selection in the team till she is fully ready,” Al Kamali related.
“We have this upcoming group of athletes, and I have the confidence that at least some of them are capable of medals at the Asian level,” he added.
The UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) is yet to finalise the UAE squad travelling to Jakarta. “It is up to the UAE NOC and we are waiting for a final confirmation from them. But the reality is that we have to wait till we get a final word from them,” Al Kamali admitted.
“In the meantime we will continue with our preparations,” he added.
The Ten athletes
Alia Mohammad Saeed: 5,000m and 10,000m
Fatima Al Hossani: Discus and Shot Put
Widad Ebrahim: Discus and Shot Put
Omar Al Sulfa: 100m and 200m
Mohammad Al Noobi: 100m and 200m
Nasseb Juma: 100m and 200m
Mohammad Abbas: Triple Jump
Mayouf Hassan: 800m and 1,500m
Saud Al Za’abi: 800m and 1,500m
Ahmad Hassan: Shot Put and Discus