Dubai: Mohammad Al Hammadi dedicated the UAE’s first-ever World Championships gold medal to the nation as the curtains came down on the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships late on Friday.
A world record holder in his favourite men’s 800m T34, the 34-year-old Al Hammadi powered his way to a gold and also his third medal at this competition with a Championship Record time of 1:44.36 minutes.
Chasing him in second was arch rival Walid Ktila of Tunisia (1:44.79), while Yang Wang of China came in third (1:46.04).
“This one is for the leaders and the people of my country,” Al Hammadi told Gulf News.
“I have heard the cheering of the crowd during the races, and to go out there again and return with a gold medal this time gives me the greatest joy and satisfaction. There cannot be anything bigger than this, not just for me, but for the UAE as well,” he added.
Al Hammadi’s personal best time of 1:37.84 set in Arbon, Switzerland in 2017 is the current world record. “This is not just about me. Yes, of course I am happy where I am and how I have fared in this championships,” Al Hammadi said.
“But this is more for the UAE, its leaders and its people. If the UAE is happy, then there is no reason why I shouldn’t be happy as well,” he said.
The UAE athlete, however, remained ambiguous about his plans for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. “My job is to be out there on the track and give my best of during training. I’ve been doing this for the past so many years, and I will continue putting in the hard work like I usually do,” Al Hammadi said.
“Ten months is a long time from now for the next Paralympics. On my part I can only assure you that I will be there on the training field every single day,” he shrugged.
Meanwhile, China completed their hat-trick of wins while finishing on top of the medal standings with a total of 59, including 25 gold and 23 silver. Brazil was placed second with 14 gold, nine silver and 16 bronze while Great Britain completed the podium with 13 gold, nine silver and six bronze.
“We’ve worked hard to make these championships a huge success,” championships Director Majid Al Usaimi said.
“Everyone has played a role towards the success of such a huge event. We couldn’t have asked anything better than to see one of our athletes [Al Hammadi] bring down the curtains with a gold medal for the UAE,” he added.
The next edition of the World Para Athletics Championships will be held in Kobe, Japan, in 2021.
No. Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1. China 25 23 11 59
2. Brazil 14 9 16 39
3. G. Britain 13 9 6 28
4. USA 12 10 12 34
5. Ukraine 11 8 8 27
6. Russia 10 16 15 41
7. Australia 8 6 9 23
8. Tunisia 7 3 3 13
9. Germany 7 2 2 11
10. Uzbekistan 4 2 2 8
24. India 2 2 5 9
33. UAE 1 1 1 3