Emirati sprinter Hamda Al Hosani on Monday won gold in the 100-metre race, securing her status as one of the world’s most-successful Special Olympics sprinters.
The 29-year-old’s victory was hard-won as she was chased all of the way by Bahraini athlete Aysha Alsubei who finished a close second.
The result means the two athletes have swapped places on the winners’ podium after Aysha won Sunday’s 200m race and Hamda took the silver.
Hamda’s two medals at this week’s Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi takes her overall international medal count to an impressive 17 and makes her a favourite for even more on-track success later in the week and in next year’s World Games in the UAE capital.
“I’m now looking forward to the 4x100m metre relay race on Tuesday,” said Hamda. Meanwhile, Emirati athletes with determination and their able-bodied colleagues won silver and bronze medals in a double victory for the UAE’s unified table tennis couples teams.
Khaled Al Shahi, who has ID, won the silver medal with his able-bodied colleague, Nawaf Al Kaabi, while ID athlete Mohammed Almas was presented with bronze alongside his teammate, Yousef Al Kaabi.
Team UAE sprinter Hamda al Hosani won gold today in the 100m race, securing her status as one of the world’s most successful Special Olympics sprinters. #SpecialOlympicsAD #AbuDhabiPrepares #HereToParticipate #TeamUAE pic.twitter.com/JHeSeG9FEf
— Special Olympics AD (@WorldGamesAD) March 19, 2018
Khaled said: “I am very proud that I took second place in this category and I dedicate this win to our UAE leaders.”
More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries have travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part. Athletes are participating in 16 sports across eight venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.
Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the Emirati Capital, marking its first debut in the history of the MENA region.
Despite hot conditions at The Sevens, both sides put on a ferocious contest but the Dragons did enough to come out on top to win 68-45 (10.8.68-6.9.45)
The Bulls began well and were unlucky with a few missed set shots, before Ryan Perkins got the first points on the board for Dragons.
Bulls skipper Nathan Holly and forward Ted Stobart then answered with an important goals. Dragons big man Daniel Gribbin closed the difference to just three points at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, much of the momentum was largely going the Bulls’ way but they suffered a blow when Ted Stobart picked up an injury which saw the game halted.
The stoppage allowed Dragons to recalibrate and they went on to get the next two goals to help command a narrow half-time lead of 5 5 35 to the Bulls’ 3 6 24.
In a closely-fought third quarter, it was the Dragons who broke the deadlock with vital goals through Ryan Perkins and Jake Kane. But there was still time for Jack Egan to kick a team lifting goal after the three-quarter time siren to reduce the deficit for Bulls to three goals.
With all to play for, Bulls threw one last major challenge at the Dragons in the last quarter when players Gerry Tubridy and Nick Burchell kicked back-to-back goals.
That saw the margin to just 10 points half-way through the final quarter, but Dragons found that extra kick. Perkins marked 34 metres out and calmly went back and slotted the sealer. Mark Nancarrow kicked another goal late on to complete another AFL Middle East title and their sixth in seven seasons.
Best on ground for the day was Jake Kane who capped off a remarkable first season with the Dragons as he also won the League Best & Fairest voted by the umpires.
The result meant Dragons finished the season unbeaten and Richard Wharton, coach of Dubai Dragons, lauded his team’s efforts.
“I had plenty of belief in our players and yes we had the right to go in as favourites. But you can never be very confident as Grand Finals never follow a script,” he said.
“We knew the Bulls would come out strong and they had their tails up in the first quarter. We were just lucky that they missed a few shots on goal so we kept in touch. The boys stuck to the task and did the simple things well and the ball seemed to start bouncing started our way.”
He added: “To their credit the Bulls never went away but we’re lucky to have strong leaders that stepped up when it was needed. To go through the season undefeated is an incredible effort regardless of code or competition, and especially considering we had a completely new look this year. Premierships never come easy and to win four straight is unbelievable for our club. We’ll be enjoying this one for a while, that’s for sure.”
The 18th Fazza Open Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle brought the talent of Emirati girls to the fore on Saturday, March 17th at the Hamdan Heritage Centre (HHC) shooting range in Ruwayyah.
Emirati shooter Azza Al-Deri finished first place in the Women’s Open Division after scoring a near-perfect 78 points out of a total of 80 in the finals.
Omani shooter, Awatif Bint Khamis came in second place with 75 points and Aisha Bint Saif Al-Derai placed third, who also scored 75 points.
The tournament attracted a staggering 2,500 participants from all over UAE and the GCC, with big prizes up for grabs that included 4X4’s and huge cash rewards.
Charlotte Sarrazin and Anne-Laure Laine, seasoned participants of the HHC Camel Trek, also competed in the championship.
This was Charlotte’s second time participating in the tournament and this time around, she actually made it to the semi-finals and claimed that her training from last year came in very handy for this year.
“I was here last year for the championship, but I didn’t perform that well. Usually, the top 22 contestants move to the next round and this time I have qualified until the semi-finals, so it’s a huge improvement on my part,” she said.
From the training to the shooting, there are several challenging elements in the sport that Charlotte described to Sport360.
“We are given 12 rounds and there are six targets altogether, out of which the top two are just for practice and adjusting the front and rear sight. Once that is done, we have to hit the remaining four targets twice and we only have eight minutes to do all of this. Adjusting the focus is the hardest part, especially since the rifle is also used by other contestants who adjust the iron sights as per their convenience. This is why the aim during the last couple of rounds is always the best,” Charlotte explained.
“We are given points out of a total of 80, but some girls are so good that they often end up getting the same score, so the ranks are decided according to the number of times the shooter has hit bullseye.”
Both Charlotte and Anne loved taking part in the sport and it filled them with even greater love and appreciation for the Emirati culture, which had already been inculcated in them by the annual Camel Treks.
The turnout of this year’s competition drew the attention of the Chairman of the Planning Committee of the National Olympics Committee, Maj. Gen. Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, who believes that such competitions provide a good platform for future Olympians to further hone their talents.
“We are discovering new talents and I would like to call on the attention of the shooting federation to develop the skills of our local shooters who have a bright future of reaching the Olympics,” he said.
He further added: “I congratulate the HHC and everyone behind Fazza Open Championship for Shooting for organising this annual tournament. We know that some of best shooters started in traditional shooting and we are giving them the experience.”
Saktoun Rifle shooting is not just a sport, but an important part of Emirati heritage that the HHC has been trying to preserve and promote to strengthen national identity of the UAE.