Dubai: As an individual performer, Shaikha Latifa Bint Ahmad Bin Juma Al Maktoum, will be flying a solitary flag for the UAE in the show jumping competition at the Olympics next month.

She qualified for the event aboard her excellent stallion, Kalaska de Semilly, at a competition in Doha in March last year, and since then she has been working hard on the European circuit to prepare for the biggest event of her life.

At the Asian Games in December 2006, Shaikha Latifa posted her intentions of gaining a spot at the Olympics with a competent performance to help the UAE team to an excellent bronze medal behind the Koreans in silver and the Saudi Arabians in gold.

She missed the Pan Arab Games in Cairo at the end of last year to concentrate on her training and has been based in France and competing in Belgium, Rotterdam and Italy in recent months.

Maiden adventure

Rana Eissa, UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation secretary, said: “Shaikha Latifa has been doing very well on the European circuit, competing in Five Star events and getting valuable experience for the Olympic Games."

“Her horse, Kalaska de Semilly is healthy and happy and he will be travelling to Hong Kong where the equestrian sports are being held from Aachen in Germany on July 26.''

The equestrian competitions will run from August 9-21 and show jumping will be held at the main competition venue at Shatin.

And while Shaikha Latifa will be embarking on her first Olympic adventure, one competitor, New Zealand's Mark Todd will be participating in a record sixth event. The two-time gold medallist made his comeback after eight years in retirement.

He has bought a 10-year old grey called Gandalf who he hopes to ride at Beijing.

He made this press statement: “He was available to be bought, so I flew up to Auckland, tried him out, had him vetted and it all happened very quickly. There wasn't a lot of planning involved, it all just happened,'' said 51-year-old Mark, whose comeback is being sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock.


Shaikha Latifa qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games in the individual show jumping event with brilliant effort on the concluding day of the Seventh Qatar International Show Jumping Championship in March 2007.

Shaikha Latifa clocked 47.72 seconds in the jump-off to book her ticket to Beijing.

She achieved the feat while riding her own horse Kalaska de Semilly (Diamant de Semilly - Normandy Night).

After qualifying for the Olympics Shaikha Latifa said: "I was under tremendous pressure in the first two rounds and it is always difficult to perform under pressure. It wasn't an easy course, as we saw not many riders get through, but in the end all that matters is the qualifier for the Olympics and I have done it."

In 2006 Shaikha Latifa won a team bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games.