The UAE received a huge boost in their Olympic ambitions after their female weightlifting team were awarded one spot for the Rio Games by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
The decision came after the IWF Executive Meeting, where the board stripped Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, North Korea, Russia of two quotas, while and Belarus, Romania, and Uzbekistan will each have one representative in Brazil, following multiple doping cases.
Those 13 quota places and six unallocated spots saw the UAE clinch one berth, subject to approval by the International Olympic Committee, in the women’s weightlifting competition.
It is the latest highlight for the female’s game in this country after the IWF distributed spots based on ranking, universality and team efforts.
Emirates Weightlifting Federation (EWF) officials will now be tasked with deciding which of the seven athletes will travel to Rio de Janeiro in August.
EWF secretary general Faisal Al Hammadi has confirmed meetings will take place soon and the performances in April’s Asian Championships in Uzbekistan will be assessed before making a final decision.
One person who did travel to Tashkent for that tournament was Amna Al Haddad. The 26-year-old was ecstatic to hear that one female Emirati will be flying the UAE flag high in Brazil.
“It’s very interesting to see that women in this sport are qualifying for the Olympics,” she said. “It shows that there are really great women athletes in the UAE who deserve to have the spotlight on their achievements.”
Al Haddad is fully aware that competition for that lone spot will be tight and whether she does go or not, she insists every member of that group is an “Olympian”.
“The way I see it is, it was a team effort to compete in the Asian Championships. It doesn’t matter who gets to the Olympics and who does not,” she said.
“We are all Olympians because without us that one person would not be going there. Each one of us has contributed in its own way in qualifying for the Olympics. I’m very proud and happy because this is a historic moment for our country.”
It will be the second consecutive time that the UAE will have a female weightlifter in the global showpiece event after Khadija Mohammad competed at London 2012.
Al Hammadi welcomed the IWF announcement and insists it proves the women’s game is on the right track.
“We are happy as weightlifting is a relatively new sport in the UAE as people have only been doing this sport for eight years now and to qualify for the Olympics in Rio is a really big achievement for us and overall in the UAE,” he told Sport360 from the Junior World Championships in Georgia.
“We are really proud of the team and the athletes what they have done during this period. This is the second time we have qualified for the Olympics and it’s fantastic to be competing again in Rio De Janeiro.”