Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi will be representing the UAE at the Gothenburg Horse Show for the Longines Jumping FEI World Cup™ Final, which kicks off today. Here, he speaks exclusively to Sport360 about representing his country, dealing with pressure, and his Olympic dreams.
Preparation has been going very well ahead of the Longines Jumping FEI World Cup Final, I just came back from a show in Paris, so that’ the best training – to be in competition. I have to change some things when I’m riding outside of the UAE. The Longines Jumping FEI World Cup Finalitself is indoors so I have to get used to the smaller arena and make sure the horse is comfortable. The weather is obviously colder in Sweden than the UAE so you have to make sure your horse is able to cope with the conditions. As a rider you have to wear additional clothing and have more blankets for the horses. They can take some getting used to that. Typically it takes about 10 days for a horse to get used to the conditions in Europe.
There is pressure because you’re competing against the best in the world and of course it’s an honour to represent your country, but you want to make sure you’re doing it in the right way, and showing the world that the UAE riders are capable of competing with the best. We’re lucky because we’ve had a lot of international shows in the UAE and the level is very high, the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation have been doing a great job in building the sport.Things have been getting much easier because we’re jumping a lot more frequently, which means the horses are getting better and better.
Victory is the dream at the Longines Jumping FEI World Cup Final, it would be a brilliant achievement and it would do a lot for the sport back home, we’re going the right way, and this is going to be a great experience. It’s not easy to get into the sport, it takes a long time and you have to look after yourself and your diet. Not only that you have to look after your horse the same way, you need to be very patient.
We have a goal in the UAE to qualify for the Olympics and we have a plan with our trainers and hopefully if we do we can get a medal. It’s step by step at the moment but it’s becoming more and more realistic. The horses are good and the team is determined to make it happen, starting this week.
Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club’s Salim Khamis Al Suwaidi and his horse ‘Espresso’ won the 21st Emirates Show Jumping Championship. This competition showcased 15 classes over three days at the Emirates Equestrian Centre in Dubai, under the supervision of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation (UAEERF) with Longines as the title sponsor, Official Time Keeper and presenting partner of the Emirates Longines Show Jumping league competitions.
The Emirates Championship celebrates UAE riders from all categories approved by the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation (UAEERF) who participated in the Emirates Longines Show Jumping League’s national and international competitions during the UAE’s show jumping season. Children, Juniors, Young Riders, as well as Division 1 & 2 riders, rode in their respective classes with each category riding in three competitions – one on each day of the championship. The results are judged according to the special rules for the championship and the riders’ results are carried over to the championship’s final day of competitions. The championship carried a total purse of AED 400,000, which was distributed amongst winning riders.
Sheikh Jamal bin Nasser Al Nuaimi attended the championship competitions and awarded the winners of Division 1, while Hussam Zummit, representative of the UAEERF, supervised the riders’ performance. Hamad Al Shamsi, Director of the Emirates Equestrian Centre in Dubai, and Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Nakhi, Vice-Chairman of the Show Jumping Committee at the UAEERF also took part in presenting the prizes to the riders.
The Ground Jury Committee was presided by Khalil Ibrahim with the assistance of several international judges. The courses were designed and implemented on the arena by the German Course Designer Volker Smidth and the championship arenas were supervised by Ali Muhajer.
H.E. Major General Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, President of UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation said: “Following the biggest weekend in the equestrian world – where both the 24th edition of the Dubai World Cup and the 21st Emirates Show Jumping Championship took place – we celebrate not only the UAE as a hub for equestrian sports but also our immense love and respect for the horse.” He continued: “We would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his extraordinary vision and the ability to see the world as a true equestrian where the past and future are linked by the common thread of heritage and values.”
“Just as Sheikh Mohammad’s inspirational new book mentions that his first horse taught him that achievements are never accomplished without work; we, too, have seen this in our national riders who have put tremendous effort and dedication into what they do, every day. This is what spurs us all on to achieve more for the sport as we head towards the end of an incredible season which has seen more international show jumpers than ever before travel to the UAE to compete in world class competitions delivered by the Federation and venues across the UAE. 50 international riders, 180 riders from the Middle East including 100 riders from the UAE show this sport is growing year on year due to the facilities, events and quality of competition we now offer on UAE soil.”
Salim Khamis Al Suwaidi and his 10 year-old horse ‘Espresso’ from the Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club won the final Two Rounds not Against the clock class with jumps placed at 150cm. This was another title added to Al Suwaidi’s great record with ‘Espresso’, as he won a number of international show jumping championships during the season. He also holds the title of winner of the Emirates Championship in the Division 1 category with his spectacular horse ‘Feline S’, which he won back in 2017.
Al Suwaidi came in first with a score of (3.04) penalty points in the three rounds. Sheikha Latifah Al Maktoum came second on her horse ‘Cobolt 8’ with a score of (3.52) penalty points, and Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club’s rider Hamad Ali Al Kirbi and ‘Uxmal D’ysieux’ came in third with a score of (4) penalty points.
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.