Nada Al Bedwawi, the UAE’s first female Olympic swimmer, has plans to encourage more young girls to take up swimming as she believes its time the nation took “progressive” measures to make advances in the field of sport.
Al Bedwawi, who swam in the 50m freestyle heats on Friday, is keen to play an inspirational role for the younger generation at home and has ideas on how to get more girls to participate in sport.
“I thought about my high school, and how they didn’t really care about PE in general and how it was a subject that everyone would get a 100 in,” Al Bedwawi told Sport360.
“So I thought maybe have a compulsory, preferably Olympic sport, that each student must take, like swimming, judo, fencing, etc. “Because if young girls don’t even try then they wouldn’t even know they have a passion in a certain sport.”
Asked what she thinks is the main factor hindering females from practicing sport in the UAE, the 19-year-old NYU Abu Dhabi student said: “Probably cultural reasons. And for that we need to target parents and such, but it’s hard to do that, so both my parents and I are trying to think of a way to get to them.”
Al Bedwawi placed third in her 50m free heat with a modest time of 33.42 seconds. She was the flagbearer for the UAE in the opening ceremony.
“It was a really nice and overwhelming experience,” said Al Bedwawi of her journey in Rio. “It’s not as scary as I thought and – I don’t know how to say this but – back in the UAE you don’t see many swimmers, especially for me as a girl, I don’t see other female swimmers.
“But once I go there (to the Olympics) I know I’m not alone and that there are millions around the world who share the same passion, and that it is possible for us, UAE nationals, to be regarded like American, Russian and other athletes.
“We have the same facilities as they do, all we need is a change in the mentality. “The UAE has been progressive in many fields, and now it’s time for us to focus on sports.”
Contrasting fortunes greeted the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams on Saturday at Rio. While the latter suffered another humiliating defeat at the hands of Argentina to end their Olympic campaign, the former find themselves a win away from scripting history by moving into the semi-finals after a hiatus of 36 years.
The road, however, is far from easy. An uninspiring draw against Canada implied the Indians will face a thoroughly motivated Belgium squad in the quarters on Sunday. Although there’s little to choose from the world rankings of the two teams, the fact remains that Belgium moves into the encounter as clear favorites.
AN INCONSISTENT JOURNEY
The journey in Brazil has been topsy-turvy so far, for the Indians have witnessed some stunning highs juxtaposed with a few disappointing lows. The 2-2 draw in the final group match against the team ranked 11 rungs below is an illustration of the latter. As India seek to overpower the Belgians in the quarters, ironing out quite a few issues seem to be the need of the hour.
PR Sreejesh and SV Sunil have been particularly good in the field. The former’s astute goalkeeping has been one of the reasons behind India’s 2-1 victory against Argentina. The defence has been noteworthy as well, especially in the match against Canada. Harmanpreet Singh and Surender Kumar stepped up in time and displayed immense skills in executing clean tackles and stubborn defending.
However, close defeats against Germany and the Netherlands brought on by momentous lapses of concentration spoke of an inability to close off games. It is this issue that may return to haunt Sreejesh’s men during their encounter against Belgium on Sunday.
THE INABILITY TO CLOSE GAMES
India missed as many as five penalty corners in the dying seconds of the Netherlands game to end up on the losing side. While the stats for drag-flickers aren’t really exciting, the fact that India had a solitary field goal ahead of their match against Holland speaks of greater issues in the forward line.
Further, the penchant of picking up yellow cards – four against Argentina, three against the Netherlands, one in the final quarter against Canada – are not going to help either. India cannot afford to lose their men on the field, even if for a few minutes, if they wish to stand a chance against the Pool A toppers.
Belgium have won four matches out of five in their pool and are expected to weigh heavy on their opponents. With striker SV Sunil’s injury – and possible absence from the line-up – being a nagging worry for the Indians, the dragflicking duo of Rupinder Pal Singh and VR Raghunath continue to be the cynosure in the camp ahead of the quarter-finals.
For the first time since 1980, the Indian hockey team is in the knockout stages of the Olympics. Replicating the feats of Vasudevan Bhaskaran’s team may seem a far-fetched assumption as of now, one dearly hopes that optimism and a billion prayers will help the team tide over several unanswered questions, on Sunday.
Joseph Schooling pulled off a stunning Olympic upset on Friday by beating US legend Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly to win Singapore’s first ever gold medal.
Asian champion Schooling, 21, completed a wire-to-wire victory to deny Phelps a fourth successive title in the event, winning in a Games record 50.39sec. Phelps, amazingly, tied with both Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh for the silver.
Here, we pick out five things you didn’t know about Schooling.
1. Singapore had never won an Olympic gold before Schooling’s breakthrough. The country first entered the Olympics in 1948. Singapore’s first medal was a silver in weightlifting at Rome in 1960. Singapore waited 28 years before winning its next medal, a silver in table tennis at Beijing in 2008. In London, Singapore won two bronze medals in table tennis.
2. Joseph Schooling met Michael Phelps by chance when he was 13 and had his photograph taken with him. Phelps was in Singapore preparing for the Beijing Olympics and was training at one of the pools where Schooling also practiced. Schooling said Phelps was his idol growing up but had no regrets about beating him in his final race.
3. To further his swimming career, Schooling left Singapore when he was 13 and moved to Florida to train at the Bolles School, living in a boarding house with older boys. He regularly fought with his coach Sergio Lopez, the Spaniard who won a bronze medal in breaststroke at the 1998 Olympics, but credits him for his success.
4. It is mandatory for Singaporean men to perform two years of National Service after finishing school. Schooling competed at the 2012 London Olympics, and a year later the government agreed to defer his enlistment for three years to let him continue training in the United States for the Rio Olympics.
5. Schooling bears a tattoo on his back, depicting the head and horns of a Longhorn, a breed of Texas cattle, and the emblem of sporting teams at the University of Texas, where he studies and trains. Underneath the cattle horns are the words, “Come and Take It.” Schooling had to convince his parents before they allowed him to get the tattoo.