Elite Squash Middle East MD John Jossifakis is aiming high and is working on making his dreams a reality as he shoots for Olympic stardom as an air pistol shooter. Here he talks exclusively with Sport360.
I’m on the Canadian national team and the goal is to get onto the Olympic team, the UAE is letting me train in Al Ain where the facilities are phenomenal. The shooting centre is an Olympic-level venue with the top-notch equipment, electronic scoring and events they host.
As an ex-pat, you can’t bring weapons in and out of the country but the UAE has been very understanding. The shooting federation of Canada and the UAE along with the support of the Abu Dhabi police, have made it possible to train here.
Being half-Greek, I got inspired by Anna Korakaki back in 2016, when she won a gold and bronze medal for Greece in Rio. I’ve liked shooting all my life and wanted to get involved and this was the thing that inspired me to do so. The day after she won the gold medal I went to the shooting range and began practising.
Shooting allows all ages to take part, it’s actually beneficial to be older for a sport like this, it’s easier to train yourself to lower your heartbeat. I’m taking part in a national event in Canada this summer and competing against others on the team. I’ll be training the States for a month or so in April with world class Olympic air pistol coach Sill Lyra.
There aren’t a huge amount of air shooters in the UAE, however in 2004 Sheikh Ahmad bin Mohammad bin Hasher Al-Maktoum won a gold medal for shooting at the Olympics, the first ever medal for the UAE. The community grew here after that.
I also work with a personal trainer four times a week because lifting a weapon repeatedly for large amounts of time takes a significant amount of muscle control and strength. You also need to have a stable core so there’s no swaying of the upper body. I also do a lot of shoulder work to make sure that the hand movement is very stable. Even the slightest movement when shooting at a target makes all the difference. You’re basically trying to hit a one-centimetre target from ten metres so you’ve got to have a steady hand, and that means working on it in the gym. It’s a lot of sacrifice but hopefully it’ll all be worth it.
Dubai is getting ready to welcome show jumping action as the 21stedition of the Emirates Championship kicks off this Thursday at the Emirates Equestrian Centre (EEC).
As EEC’s last major competition is held under the supervision of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation (UAEERF). The three-day event, held at the Emirates Equestrian Centre, will see riders and their spectacular horses jumping heights of up to 150cm in the club’s magnificent outdoor sand arena.
The Emirates Championship 2019 will boast of 15 classes to accommodate riders and horses of all levels – Advanced riders (Division 1), Amateurs (Division 2), Young Riders (between the ages of 16 – 21), Juniors (riders between 14 – 18 years old) and Children (riders below the age of 14). There will also be two open classes for any rider who wishes to participate. All riders will be competing for their share of a whooping prize purse of AED 395,000.
Also set up will be mobile tack shops and food trucks that offer a variety of cuisine and family entertainment.
For more information on the Emirates Longines Show Jumping League or to learn about upcoming shows, please visit www.emiratesequestrian.com or call the UAEERF Jumping Department on 02 666 1800 between 9am – 4pm.
What: The Emirates Longines Show Jumping League
When: Thursday, March 28th from 3:30pm onwards; Friday, March 29th from 9:00am onwards and Saturday, March 30th from 9:00am onwards
Where: Emirates Equestrian Centre, Seeh Al Salam, Endurance City
Parking: Free parking available within walking distance to main arena
Runners took to the track at Abu Dhabi’s NYU Campus stadium for Ultimate Athletics’ busiest race night yet.
The Benni family travelled a whopping 235km to be part of the event, with six children competing in the Junior races. After successful races the family came away with an impressive six medals. “I was looking online for sprint competitions in UAE,” said Mr Benni, “we really appreciate the way the events are organised, it’s been a success.”
Twenty-year-old Aljazi Farhan, part of the Kuwait National Team, took part in the women’s senior 100m, 200m and high jump events. She said: “I came a long way to participate in an organised competition to test my performance level. I’m delighted to set a new personal best too.”
Rising star Muru Sundavadra, 11, from Foremarke School, Dubai, won five gold medals on the night. He trains at Ultimate Athletics in Dubai and impressed the crowd winning all his events – 80m, 150m, 300m, triple jump and high jump. He said, “My favorite sport is athletics I literally run to training each week, I would go every day if my schedule allowed.” The youngster continued, “Ultimate Athletics pushed me every session and as a result I achieved five first place finishes. My goal is to become a professional athlete and represent my country at the Olympics.”
Recent Dassa Schools Champion and Most Valuable Athlete Ross McDonald, 15, ran the 400m, final race of the night, in a blistering 51.29. He is one of Ultimate Athletics Elite Squad Athletes traveling to Gothenburg for the World Youth Games this June, coached under Joseph Maynard. He is a raw talent, having only been training a year ago after being referred to Ultimate Athletics by his P.E Teacher at English College Dubai.
Also in action was local Olympic Athlete Saud Al Zaabi, racing out of the Al Nasr Club, who run 50.19 in the 400m. He competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 1500m and 800m at the 2017 World Championships. This race was used as a pre competition turnover race for his upcoming 800m season.
Ultimate Athletics’ organiser Lisa Campbell spoke after Thursday’s event: “It was a beautiful evening that reminded me why I do this, the passion on the athletes faces, the chance to shine, the opportunity to form friendships even though on the track you are rivals. It’s worth every second of preparation time and travel to see these smiles and even sometimes the tears.”