Maha Haddioui looks to inspire other regional golfers

Sport360 staff 00:02 21/07/2016
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Trailblazer: Maha Haddioui

Organisers of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters have hailed Morocco’s trailblazing golfer Maha Haddioui, who has qualified for the Rio Olympics, calling it a ground-breaking achievement for women’s golf in the Arab world.

The Moroccan ace, who is also the only Arab woman to earn full playing status on the Ladies European Tour, will carry the hopes and expectations of the entire Arab world when she tees up at next month’s Summer Olympics where the game is making its long-awaited return after 112 years.

The Dubai-based tournament has constantly encouraged Haddioui, repeatedly extending invitations to her whenever she has not been able to qualify on her own.

A proud Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: “Being the only Arab in the 60-player field, Maha’s qualification for the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza will leave a lasting legacy for the future generations.

“Maha has emerged as a role model for aspiring female golfers not only Morocco, but in the entire region. Morocco is leading the way when it comes to professional golf in the Arab world, and it’s definitely important for people from other countries to see how their golfers are shaping up.”

Haddioui knows she will be competing in a tough field but is not putting a ceiling on her expectations.

“My goal is always to be the top player in the world, but playing the Olympics and getting a medal is the ultimate dream,” she said.

“I know it is going to be incredibly challenging to win a medal, but I’m going to give it my all. I am upbeat and focused as I am quite used to the high pressure that comes with playing in big tournaments. But, it would be absolutely amazing representing Morocco and being part of the African contingent at the Olympic Games. We have had some great Moroccan athletes who have made the country proud, and my dream is to follow in their footsteps.”

With 22 medals, Morocco enjoys a strong pedigree of world-class athletes led by Hicham El Guerrouj, who boasts two gold and one silver. Nawal El Moutawakel created history when she took 400m hurdles gold at the 1984 Los Angeles, becoming the first Arab woman to win a gold medal.

“It’s a little girl’s dream, even if you are 27 now, you still have a dream to win a medal. It’s something really strong in my heart. If that happens if will sort of inspire other women in the Arab world to take up golf,” said Haddioui.

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