UAE claim GCC Beach Games rowing gold

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The UAE finished second behind Kuwait in the Double Sculls event.

The 2nd GCC Beach Games are at full speed as competitions enter the third day, following the spectacular Opening Ceremony on Thursday, 2nd April. The Games will see over 300 athletes compete from across the GCC compete in 13 events across eight sporting disciplines held in al-Gharafa Club and Katara Cultural Village across seven days.

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Team Qatar lead the way in handball and secured a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Oman on Saturday, blazing ahead of the rest of the field with 6 points that guaranteed a gold medal regardless of the result of their upcoming match against Bahrain on Monday. The Omani handball team is likely to clinch silver medal ahead of Bahrain, who are yet to win a game.

The hosts’ volleyball teams also performed well, with Qatar’s Team A defeating Oman and Team B defeating Kuwait. It means that both Qatar sides will play each other in the semi-finals, with Oman’s A and B teams also taking on their compatriots in a place in Monday’s final.

In the football competition at al-Gharafa Club, the UAE topped the points table after their 4-1 victory over rivals Kuwait on Saturday. Bahrain currently sit second after defeating Team Qatar 2-1. The Beach football competitions will continue until the last day of the Games.

Commenting on the progress of the 2nd GCC Beach Games, Director of PR for the Beach Games Organising Committee and the Qatar Olympic Committee, Mohamed al-Fadala said: “We are extremely pleased with the performance of our athletes in this incredibly competitive tournament and are honored to host such an exciting edition of the GCC Beach Games.

“The Games have so far been a great success and will surely inspire a new generation of athletes, locally, regionally as well as internationally.”

Meanwhile in Katara Cultural Village, the UAE had a day to remember in the rowing events. First, Ahmed Al-Humaidi claimed gold in the Single Sculls event, before the UAE’s Double Sculls team took home silver behind Kuwait. Bahrain finished third to clinch a bronze medal.

The excitement is set to continue as the week progresses, with Sailing, Open Water Swimming and 3×3 Basketball matches set to begin from the 6th April onwards.

After the first edition held in Bahrain in 2010, this year’s GCC Beach Games are held in Doha’s state-of-the-art facilities and iconic landmarks over an action-packed eight day sporting spectacle. The multi-purpose complex at Al-Gharafa Club is hosting the volleyball, handball, football and 3×3 basketball events, while Katara Cultural Village, situated on Doha’s Corniche, will host open water swimming, rowing and sailing.

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Earn the ultimate bragging rights at Yas Links’ Ladies Open

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Serene setting: Yas Links was named as one of the world’s top 100 golf courses in 2011.

Yas Links are preparing to host another tournament with their annual Ladies Open and if you want to be among the entrants, then make sure you sign up before Wednesday’s deadline.

Taking place on Saturday, April 11 from 09:00, the competition consisting of 18 holes will be a stroke play event, and open to amateurs who hold a valid Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) handicap.

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In the last two months, Yas Links have staged their annual Men’s and Junior Opens which were deemed a huge success. 

And next week’s tournament looks set to be no different as the ladies tee-off on a course that was named in the world’s top 100 courses in 2011.

“Although the Ladies Open is not as fully subscribed as the annual Men’s Open, the attendance consistently has grown as ladies have become more prevalent in and around the UAE thanks to the popularity of the game,” said Carly Tjader, sales and marketing and relationship manager at Yas Links.

Entry costs Dh100 for Yas Links members, juniors Dh375, EGF members will pay Dh450, while guests will be charged Dh550. 

Yas Links are preparing to host another tournament with their annual Ladies Open and if you want to be among the entrants, then make sure you sign up before Wednesday’s deadline.

Included in the fee is one round of golf, a buffet, full use of practice facilities and a shared golf cart with GPS.

With Saturday’s event being the sixth edition since Yas Links opened in 2010, Tjader believes there will be plenty of positives from taking part whether you win or lose.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to compete against like-minded golfers for the ultimate bragging rights,” she said.

“If someone has a valid handicap certificate, we encourage them to be involved as it’s one that they will thoroughly enjoy as well as playing in one of the most beautiful golf courses in the UAE.”

What: Yas Links Ladies Open
Where: Yas Links Golf Club, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
When: Saturday, April 11 from 11:00
Contact: To register call 02 810 7710 or email [email protected]. Registration closes at midnight on Wednesday.

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Dubai expats set for Marathon des Sables

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Marcus Smith (l) and Tom Otton (r) are taking on the craziest marathon on Earth.

Two UAE expats are bracing themselves for the greatest challenge of their lives on April 5 when they tackle the six-day Marathon des Sables. 

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Dubbed as ‘The Toughest Footrace on Earth’, Tom Otton and Marcus Smith will go toe-to-toe with the Sahara Desert.

The race, which began in 1986 and involves a 250km multi-stage adventure, places as much an emphasis on brains as brawn. Competitors  don’t only have to be fit, they have to be clever, with the rules requiring runners to be self-sufficient; all supplies must be carried on their backs, with a tent supplied at night. 

In day to day life in Dubai, Otton is the managing director of Create Media Group, a leading digital agency that he founded five years ago. His racing companion Marcus is the founder of the ‘InnerFight’ brand, and an extremely successful high-performance coach, motivational speaker and international athlete.

Together they are a perfect combination for the Marathon des Sables. Both men have a positive outlook on life that is contagious – something that will be crucial when they face rigorous obstacles in the Sahara.

Otton and Smith met through rugby so it is fitting that their friendship and fitness will be put to the test in the toughest race around. But why did they put themselves forward for such a demanding run? “That’s really the question,” Otton says to Sport360 ahead of the race.  “You can run a kilometre, then five, then 10, then a marathon. But what do you do next? This is something we figured would push the limits.”

Surprisingly, 18 months ago Otton had never run further than 10km – a factor which one might expect to make him a little nervous ahead of his six-day encounter with the Sahara. “There are always nerves but that is a good thing,” he says. “This is a tough race and we both understand that. If there were no nerves there would be something wrong.”

To prepare for the physical challenge, the men have been taking advantage of their surroundings in the UAE.

“We go to the desert and run because that is what we are going to do in the Marathon des Sables, however a large part of our training is related to getting our bodies strong, which the endurance coach at InnerFight takes care of for us. There are many awesome bits of desert and mountains within an hour’s drive of Dubai, so we try to vary it but there are some great places.”

The open Sahara awaits Tom and Marcus

While the physical demands of the equivalent of six marathons in six days in intense heat (often upwards of 50 degrees celsius) are obvious, mental strength too is vital. Away from the comforts of home during the 250km trek, water is rationed and competitors are required to take in a minimum of 2000 calories per day.

Although the race is gruelling, it is popular. Over 1,300 people take on the challenge together so the duo are expecting it to be “good fun”. 

With great marathons, of course, come great causes. 

“We are doing this to raise funds to build an orphanage on the outskirts of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania,” Otton explains. “This is in response to the desperate plight of Tanzanian children who have been abandoned by parents – either by reason of disease and death, divorce or other incapacity to maintain the family unit.

“The charity is called Larchfield and is set up by an expat living in Dubai called Jim Berry. We know Jim very well and to be able to change the lives of others through what we are doing is a privilege.

“The objective is to build and operate a purpose built children’s home, initially for 50 children, but phased to accommodate eventually up to 300.”

If the running is as good as the fundraising, Otton and Smith should impress in the Sahara. They have already reached their objective of Dhs30,000 from 80 donations and hope to raise much more. Raising money for a good cause is an integral reason for their participation, but the UAE residents also believe the challenge may give them a different outlook on life.

“When you do something like this you learn a lot about yourself and it puts a lot of things in life in perspective,” says Otton. “Many people will never do something like this and that’s okay. Running a single mile for some people right now may be a challenge, but if you are getting better every day and learning, then that is awesome.”

Marcus (l) and Tom (r) take a minute to pose whilst training

Before they take on the Marathon des Sables, Otton and Smith are keen to pay tribute to those who have made the journey possible. “We both would like to thank our families and friends for their unreal support,” Otton concludes. “Marcus often says that I am incredibly lucky to have a wife who understands when I come home and tell her I want to do things like this. She never flinches, never doubts, but always supports.

“To know you have someone like that not only makes the challenge easier but provides a huge amount of motivation. I am a very lucky guy. It is that kind of support not only from those close to us but from people around the world that really helps on things like this.”

Donate to Tom and Marcus’ cause by visiting: www.justgiving.com/TO-MS. Sport360 will be keeping up to date with their progress throughout the Marathon des Sables. If you would like to watch videos or read articles in build up to the event, visit: http://www.marathondessables.co.uk.

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