Dubai: Obaid Al Jasmi, the UAE's Olympic swimmer, feels there is adequate time to prepare a strong contingent for the 2020 Olympic Games.
"Ten years is more than enough to have a strong contingent of like-minded sportspersons who can put the UAE at the top of the world of sport," Al Jasmi told Gulf News from Italy, where he is preparing for the Fina World Championships to be held in Rome.
"Now that [His Highness] Shaikh Mohammad [Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] has spelt out his vision, the officials from the various sports associations and federations need to get their act together and start working in earnest to prepare sportspersons who can represent and win medals for the country," he said.
Al Jasmi clocked a time of 53.29 seconds to be ranked 61st at the Beijing Games last year.
"The good thing this time is that we now have the time. Even if we do not win anything then our athletes can at least compete among the best and put the UAE at the top," the swimmer added.
Al Jasmi suggested the various associations and federations in the country start following a talent-tapping programme to attract young sportspersons who will be ready for the 2020 Games. He further reiterated that due attention needs to be paid to individual sports rather than team sports such as football, volleyball and basketball.
"Shaikh Ahmad Mohammad Al Maktoum has shown us a person can win through hard work and dedication. The future in winning medals for the UAE lies in individual sports, and hence emphasis should be given to catch them young and watch them grow. And I am sure Shaikh Mohammad will support any of these sportsmen," Al Jasmi said.
"Fortunately, we still have the time to get ready for 2020. But we need to make a start right now," he insisted.