Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Image Credit: GN Archives

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.

 

Athletics

Betlhem Desalegn Belayneh

Women’s 1,500metres

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.

 

Shooting

 

Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum

Men’s skeet

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

Men’s skeet

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.

 

Judo

 

Victor Scvortov

Men’s 73kg

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.

 

Sergiu Toma

Men’s 81kg

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.

 

Ivan Remarenco

Men’s 100kg

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.

 

Cycling

 

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.

 

Swimming

 

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.

 

Weightlifting

 

Aysha Al Balooshi

Women’s 58kg

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