Dr. Mariam Saleh Binladen – a Saudi dentist and humanitarian – added to her tally of world records, as she crossed the Dubai Creek and the Dubai Water Canal swimming a total distance of 24km, on Friday.
The special event was held in collaboration with Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Maritime City Authority, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Police and Marine Rescue.
This event was part of Dr. Mariam’s continued pledge to support Syrian orphan refugees, was attended by a delegation from the Dubai Sports Council and other supporting partners, in addition to marine safety, rescue and coordination teams.
Dr. Mariam set off at 05:00hrs, starting from the canal’s Dubai Creek entrance in the Al Shindagha area of Dubai’s historic district.
She achieved the feat at 14:10hrs, finishing at Al Ghubaiba Station next to the Four Season’s Hotel, swimming for a total nine hours and 10 minutes, battling strong currents at the entrance and mouth of the canal and navigating through a number of challenges along the way, passing through some of Dubai most striking touristic sites.
“I want to extend my warmest appreciation and gratitude to HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) for his gracious patronage of the event,” said Dr. Marian.
“And to the team members who worked really hard over the past month to make this great event a memorable success. I would also like to thank all the people who turned up just to cheer and encourage me throughout the day.”
“I am thrilled and delighted to become the first person to complete a 24km swim along the wonderful yet challenging Dubai Water Canal.
“It was a very challenging experience indeed, given that my preparation time was extremely short – barely one month of preparations to make this event happen.
“So I am really happy to have completed the swim successfully, which would not have happened without the amazing support of my family, my crew, my trainer Fiona, the team from DSC, and all the other parties involved in this event.”
In support of her cause, Dr. Mariam is inviting people to donate through her website: www.mariambinladen.com.
The FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup returns for the second leg in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and Olympic champions Ferry Weertman and Sharon van Rouwendaal will be among the big names to feature.
Weertman and Van Rouwendaal reigned supreme for Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro in what was their last competitive major race. Now seven months later, the Dutch pair will be aiming for a repeat at the Emirates Palace.
It will certainly not be easy for both swimmers. Rachele Bruni, winner of the Abu Dhabi race in 2015 and Rio silver medalist, are among the women’s entries in the 54-person field, which also includes Poliana Okimoto Cintra and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil, who finished second and third in 2016.
In the men’s 72-man field, Weertman will be aiming to go better than his eighth-placed finish lsat year and the 24-year-old is relishing the chance to get back in a competitive race after taking eight weeks off.
“Now it is back to the real work and this is the first 10km after Rio so it will be exciting,” he said.
After deciding against quitting after his disqualification in Rio, where he got two yellow cards, Jack Burnell will also feature after taking some time off.
The race begins at 15:00 at Emirates Palace and is part of the Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival where more than 700 amateurs are expected to compete across different categories.
— مجلس أبوظبي الرياضي (@AbuDhabiSC) March 9, 2017
ONES TO WATCH
Ferry Weertman (NED), 24-years-old
Has just been swimming in open water since seven years ago but is already making significant progress. Was crowned 10km open water European champion in 2014, before later adding the 2014 world silver to his medal collection. His greatest feat came last year when he outtouched two-time world champion Spyridon Gianniotis for Rio gold.
Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED), 23-years-old
Competed in the pool at the London 2012 Olympics although she missed out on a medal. Prior to the Rio Games, she won gold in the 5km open water before pulling off her best ever achievement in Brazil by holding off Rachele Bruni in the women’s 10km marathon.
Poliana Okimoto (BRA) 33-years-old
At 33, Okimoto is one of the most experienced swimmers in the Abu Dhabi field. Finished sixth in the 10km FINA World Championship in Kazan before becoming the first Brazilian to win a Olympic medal when she took Rio bronze in 10km.
Rachele Bruni (ITA) 26-years-old
Was the first Italian to win this competition in 2015 before retaining her title 12 months later. Certainly knows the conditions in the capital having won the Abu Dhabi race in 2015 and the Rio silver-medalist will be a force in the women’s race.
Jack Burnell (GBR) 23-years-old
The Englishman took time off following heartbreaking disqualification in Rio and while it will be his first competitive appearance, he certainly has the ability to cause problems for the rest of the men’s field, having won silver in last year’s European Open Water Swimming Championships.
Before relocating to Dubai in 2015 to take up the coaching role, Foster played professional football with Birmingham City Ladies FC. She then moved to Nottingham Forest Ladies FC in the UK while combining her academic studies at Nottingham Trent University.
Since arriving in the UAE, the player turned coach has helped to significantly boost the numbers of girls playing football at the academy.
There are now 54 talented girls playing regularly, compared to just the 17 before.
And, the increase in numbers has certainly translated to more success on the pitch.
Indeed, Foster’s academy teams have won consecutive league titles at every age group and have come out on top in every tournament they have entered – with a collective haul of 12 trophies in 18 months.
This weekend, on Saturday March 11th, her team will compete in the semi-finals of the du football tournament at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.
It is where Go Pro Sports Academy will have a shot at more glory as they face opposing teams from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
The winners of the two semi-final ties will then contest a final on another date, held at none other than Dubai Mall in downtown Dubai.
And, for the winner of that match, an opportunity of a lifetime is in the offing as the top UAE team will travel to the UK and enjoy an exclusive training experience with Manchester United.
Speaking ahead of this week’s semi-final clashes, Foster, said: “I’m so incredibly proud of my players, the girls give 100% effort to every training session and every match and that’s all I can ever ask for as a coach.”
She added: “One thing which I stand by is teamwork, commitment, hard work and passion, these core values are something I instill into each of my players. I’m extremely passionate as I’m sure everyone will see if they have watched me on the sideline! That’s what the game is all about, if the girls aren’t enjoying it, I’m doing my job wrong.”
Follow Jennifer Foster on Twitter.
Check out the current du standings here: https://dufc.ae/girlsChallenge/standings