Abdul Hamid Al Jani (right) from the UAE National Olympic Committee is confident the country can better its previous best haul of ten medals at an Asian Games as a huge squad of 138 athletes in 23 sporting disciplines departs to represent the UAE at the 18th Asian Games at Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia later this month.
Al Jani insists 138-strong squad chosen with medals in mind at Indonesia 2018
Dubai: The UAE is confident of notching their best-ever medal haul as Humaid Mohammad Al Qatami, vice-president of the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) leads a massive delegation of 217, including 138 athletes, at the 18th Asian Games to be jointly hosted by Jakarta and Palembang from August 18-September 2.
Abdul Hamid Al Jani, director, UAE Olympic Academy and Vice-president of the delegation to Indonesia was joined by Ahmad Al Tayyeb, head of Sport and Technical Affairs and representatives from various associations as the delegation was announced at the UAE NOC headquarters on Thursday.
“Our leaders have always shown us the way towards excellence. We are not going to Indonesia to make up the numbers. We are going to be there to challenge for medals and break our previous best haul,” Al Jani told Gulf News.
“We set the bar in Doha with ten medals, but this time we can do better than what we achieved 12 years ago,” he vouched.
The UAE made their debut at the continental multi-sport gathering at the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok. After failing to open their account till the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, the nation returned with four medals — a silver and three bronzes — from the 1994 Hiroshima Games.
Thereafter, the country has always ended among the medals with their best-ever performance coming at the 2006 Doha Games as they returned with ten medals — three gold, four silver and three bronze.
“This time our preparations have been much better than in the past as each association has tried their best to set a high standard for their athletes,” Al Tayyeb related.
“Of course we will have the normal favourite sports to hand us medals such as shooting, bowling, judo, jiu-jitsu and track and field events. But we expect a few returns from other sports such as karate, jet-skis, equestrian and fencing,” he added.
So far, the UAE’s athletes have bagged a total of 27 medals over a period of 40 years since making their continental debut at the 1978 Bangkok Asiad. These include four gold, eleven silvers and 12 bronze medals with their best showing of ten medals coming up at the 2006 Doha Games.
At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, the UAE ended in a distant 25th on the overall medals table with one gold and three bronze medals with Alia Saeed Mohammad bagging the only gold in the women’s 10,000 metres, while Shaikh Juma Al Maktoum (men’s double trap), Marwan Al Mazmi (men’s individual kata) and the experienced Shaker Ali Al Hassan (men’s Masters Bowling) got one bronze each.
This time too, the UAE will be expecting medals from shooting, bowling, equestrian, and track and field along with comparatively newer sports such as jiu-jitsu, cycling and jet skiing.
The track and field squad will have seven athletes with Alia Saeed Mohammad doubling up in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres, while young discus thrower Fatma Al Hossani will be the second woman. Mayouf Hassan (800m), Saud Al Za’abi (800m, 1,500m), Nafeeb Salmeen (200m), Omar Al Sulfa (200m) and Mohammad Abbas (triple jump) will be the five men.
With medallist Shaikh Juma Bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum among those skipping the Games this time, the favourites’ tag in shooting will be on the likes of Saif Bin Futais (skeet) and Saif Al Shamsi (double trap).
Much will also be expected of Marwan Al Mazmi, who settled for bronze in the men’s Karate individual kata in Incheon four years back, while the in-form Yousuf Al Mirza is expected to do better than his fourth place in the cycling events.
UAE Squad to Indonesia 2018
- Athletics: 7
- Bowling: 6
- Cycling: 6
- Jiu-Jitsu: 16
- Football: 22
- Basketball: 12
- Equestrian: 5
- Fencing: 4
- Golf: 2
- Jet-Ski: 5
- Judo: 3
- Karate: 3
- Archery: 4
- Rowing: 3
- Rugby: 12
- Sailing: 3
- Shooting: 14
- Table Tennis: 3
- Taekwondo: 2
- Weightlifting: 2
- Wrestling: 1
- Boxing: 3