Dubai: The UAE will be sending a full squad of 32, including 13 athletes in six different individual sports for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games starting on August 5.
Of the 13 athletes, ten have earned direct qualification while another three have been awarded wild card entries. The direct qualifiers include three shooters and judokas each, who will be joined by two track and field women distance runners, one cyclist and one weightlifter.
The three UAE shooters are former Asian champion Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and Saif Bin Futais Al Mansouri in the Skeet category, while Khalid Al Ka’abi will be in action in the Double Trap. Moldovan-born judokas Victor Scvortov (73kg), Sergiu Toma (80kg) and Ivan Remarenco (-100kg) will be the three judokas representing the UAE, while Ethiopian-born Alia Saeed Mohammad (10,000m) and Betlhem Desalegn (1,500m) will be donning the UAE colours at a second Olympic Games.
In cycling, Khor Fakkan-born and Al Nasr Club squad member Yousuf Mirza Al Hammadi will feature in the demanding 270km road race, while Aisha Al Beloushi will figure in the 58kg women’s weightlifting competition.
The three wild cards have been handed to middle distance runner Saud Al Za’abi (1,500m) along with swimmers Yaqoub Al Sa’adi and Nada Al Badwawi, who at 16 will be the youngest member and also the flag bearer for the UAE at the opening ceremony on August 5.
“Our biggest medal hope will be in the shooting and judo,” Dawood Al Hajri, Assistant General Secretary, UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) told media at the formal unveiling of the squad on Sunday.
“This is the first time that the UAE has such a big squad of athletes, a majority of who have earned their place via qualifying during the run up the Olympic Games,” he added.
So far, the UAE has won just one medal at an Olympics through Shaikh Ahmad Hasher Al Maktoum’s gold in double trap at the 2004 Athens Games. In London, the UAE had a squad of eight athletes plus the football team that went out at the end of the preliminary round itself.
“We have the best athletes going to Rio this time, and we expect them to represent the UAE in the best possible manner on the international stage,” Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President, UAE NOC, said in a written statement.
“These are the best athletes we have in the UAE at the moment and I am confident that they will do everything to raise the flag of the UAE in Rio,” he added.
Ahmad Al Tayeb, Director, Technical and Sports Affairs, UAE NOC will be the Chef de Mission, while the official delegation will include Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Vice President and Chairman of the Executive Board, UAE NOC, Mohammad Al Kamali, General Secretary, UAE NOC Ahmad Al Raisi, Head of the Olympic Planning Committee, Abdul Mohsin Al Dossary, Head of the Technical Commission and Al Hajri.
Shooting: Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum (Skeet); Saif Bin Futais Al Mansouri (Skeet); Khalid Al Ka’abi (Double Trap).
Judo: Victor Scvortov (73kg); Sergiu Toma (80kg); Ivan Remarenco (-100kg).
Athletics: Alia Saeed Mohammad (10,000m); Betlhem Desalegn (1,500m); Saud Al Za’abi (1,500m).
Cycling: Yousuf Mirza Al Hammadi (270km road race)
Weightlifting: Aisha Al Beloushi (women’s 58kg)
Swimming: Yaqoub Al Sa’adi (100m backstroke); Nada Al Badwawi (100m freestyle)