Just moments after arriving back with his gold medal, UAE skeet shooter Saif bin Futtais has set sights on achieving a top six finish in the World Championship Shotgun in Russia.
The 43-year-old Emirati Olympian did the UAE proud last weekend by topping the podium in skeet action at the Asian Shooting Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.
It was another medal in his collection which already consists of golds in the Pan Arab Championship and the Cyprus Grand Prix but he is eager to add to his tally when he competes against the world’s best in Moscow from August 30 to September 11.
“The World Championships in Moscow is my next competition and the gold I have just won will give me a lot of confidence,” said Bin Futtais, who was received my members of the UAE Shooting Association on his arrival at Dubai International Airport on Sunday evening.
“I want to finish in the top six there. I know it will be difficult because the world’s best shooters will be there but I’ve won other competitions as well and want to do the same on the world stage.
“If you’re challenging for the top six, there’s always a good chance to win a medal and that’s something I want.”
In the Astana, it was far from perfect conditions for Bin Futtais and the rest of the finalists. They had to overcome gusty winds and temperatures as low as 8°C and the Emirati admits he believed his chances of claiming gold would be slim at the start of the contest.
“I didn’t think at all that I could win gold,” he said, who placed 29th in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“It was difficult because I could not see the targets clearly because of the dark clouds. Although it was tough conditions, my mentality was still the same as I would approach any competition and there were still medals to be won because it was a final.
“As soon as the target was released, I just wanted to shoot and take the perfect aim and it was one of my toughest wins so far.”
Bin Futtais will not have much time to relax and will begin his training for the World Championships on Wednesday with practice sessions in Dubai and Al Ain.
Hassan Al-Nuaimi, a board member of the UAE Shooting Association, lauded bin Futtais’ efforts in flying the UAE flag high at international competitions.
“We congratulate Saif bin Futtais for his gold medal,” he said. “He is an athlete who has constantly performed in the last two years which has placed him among the top shooters in the world.
“We at the UAE Shooting Association are thrilled with his achievements and for what he has done to our sport because he always flies the UAE flag high.”