Dubai: Come Friday, August 5 and it will be time for yet another Olympics spectacle to unfold – the Rio 2016 where UAE will be represented by a strong 13-member squad looking to win a medal for the second time in the event’s history. XPRESS gets you up close with what will be the UAE’s largest ever contingent at an Olympics.
Betlhem Desalegn Belayneh
The Ethiopian-born middle-distance runner finished 33rd at the 2012 Summer Olympics heats in London, clocking 4:14:07 in the women’s 1,500m. This time of course, a lot is expected of the much improved Belayneh who won two gold medals (1,500m and 3,000m) at the Asian Indoor Championships in Doha earlier this February, following her dual gold in 1,500 and 5,000m races at last year’s Asian Championships in Wuhan.
Alia Saeed Mohammad
Women‘s 10,000 metres
Born Medina Kadir in Ethiopia, Mohammad is UAE’s biggest long-distance running hope this Olympics, having switched allegiance from her native Ethiopia in 2010. A 10,000 metres specialist, she clocked 32:39:39 last year at the 2015 Asian Athletics Championships in Wuhan, China to not just win the gold but set a championship record following a gold a year earlier in the same event at the Asian Games in Incheon.
Saood Al Zaabi
Men’s 1,500 metres
An 800m specialist, Al Zaabi, 27, will be headed to the famed Maracana stadium with hopes of at least qualifying from the heats of the 1,500m following a grueling two-week training recently in Morocco. He completes UAE’s three-member athletics team at Rio.
Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum
A four-time Olympic veteran, having represented UAE at the games in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the former Asian champion is coached by Lithuanian shooter Leonas Molotokas and will be leading the UAE’s charge at the National Shooting Centre in Deodoro in the men’s skeet.
Saif bin Futtais
Accompanying Shaikh Saeed in the men’s skeet will be Bin Futtais who, many reckon, is the best medal prospect having come off a long-term programme after the London Games as part of the shooting team’s preparations for Rio 2016.
Khaled Al Kaabi
Men’s double trap
Never before has the UAE sent three shooters in a single Olympics and making that promising team is Al Kaabi competing in an event that won UAE’s only Olympic medal so far 12 years ago.
A bronze medalist in the 73kg category at the 2014 World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, the Bolivian-born Scvortov represented Moldova at international level until 2012 before switching allegience to the UAE. In Rio this Olympics, he will lead UAE’s promising three-member pack of battle hardened judokas.
Having reached the third round of the men’s 81 kg event at the 2012 Summer Olympics for Moldova, all eyes are on Toma as well for him to do much better in his maiden outing at the Games for his adopted country.
Like Toma, Remarenco too is a Moldovan born-Emirati judoka and completes the UAE’s troika at Rio this summer. He won a bronze for the UAE at the 2014 World Judo Championships and he too will be looking to better a first round finish at the men’s 90kg event for Moldova at the last Olympics.
Yousif Mohammad Ahmad Mirza Al Hammadi
Men’s road race
A multiple-winner at the national level, Al Hammadi’s biggest triumph was winning the silver medal in the road race at the 2015 Asian Cycling Championships that earned him a spot at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. The feat also makes Al Hammadi UAE’s first rider in the men’s Olympic road race since 1996.
Nada Al Bedwawi
Women’s 50 metre freestyle
The youngest athlete in the group, Al Bedwawi will be the country’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony on August 6. At 18 last year, she made history - along with Alia Al Shamsi –becoming the first-ever female swimmers to represent the UAE at the World Championship in Kazan, Russia. Come next fortnight, she will be all ready to make a splash at the Olympics Aquatic Stadium in the 50m freestyle.
Yaaqoub Al Saadi
Men’s 100-metre backstroke
Also flying the flag for the UAE in the pools of Barra da Tijuca will be Al Saadi, 20, competing in the men’s 100m backstroke, an event in which he holds the national record.
Aysha Al Balooshi
This is the second consecutive time when the UAE will be represented by a woman weightlifter at the Olympics after Khadija Mohammad in the 75kg weight class in London 2012. Al Balooshi will be fighting it out in the women’s 58kg category.
Did you know?
This will be the UAE’s largest contingent of individual athletes at an Olympics
13 athletes will represent the country in six different disciplines.
Four of the delegation are women, including swimmer Nada Al Bedwawi – the flagbearer
The only time UAE won a medal was In 2004 Athens when Ahmed Al Matoum won the men’s double trap