Abdelaziz El Marzouqi grew up dreaming of the Olympic Games and could not hide his emotions when his son Omar ended up fulfilling that dream by claiming silver in individual showjumping at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires this week.
After two clear rounds, Omar, atop La Corina Lala, was one of five riders who entered a jump-off on Saturday to determine the medals and the young Emirati was just two seconds short of a gold medal, as he settled for second place behind Italy’s Giacomo Casadei.
It was a historic moment as Omar became the UAE’s first-ever medallist at a Youth Olympic Games and his father, Abdelaziz, who is also his coach, is beaming with pride over the 15-year-old’s accomplishment.
“I have a club in Abu Dhabi, and I always dreamt that one of my riders could raise the UAE flag at an Olympic Games,” Abdelaziz told Sport360 in a phone interview from Argentina.
“I’ve been riding horses since I was 12 years old and I always wanted to see this. It’s my son who ended up doing it and it’s amazing. I couldn’t do it myself but he could. I prepared several riders to compete on the international stage and we scooped many medals with the UAE national team. But this was the toughest competition. It felt different, it was emotional for me because he is my son but I am also the coach so there was a big burden on my shoulders.
“The thought of an Olympic medal was never too far from my mind. Omar started riding since he was six years old and even though he was too young to compete, we would ask the federation to try and make an exception and he would enter competitions from a very young age, maybe eight years old. He is now better than his father and that’s something I’m incredibly proud of.”
Omar is one of a small group of junior riders handpicked by Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza Al Nahyan to be part of a special training programme at Al Shira’aa in preparation for events like the Olympic Games.
“I can’t stop. I won’t stop. It’s in my blood,” he told the official website of the Youth Olympic Games. “If I don’t go to the stable every day, I get worried about why I am not there. I finish school, I go home, and then I go to the stables. I am there every day for three or four hours.”
The younger rider was thrilled to make history for the UAE.
“I am honoured to be the first Emirati to win a medal at the Youth Olympics,” Omar told Sport360.
“I was quite optimistic about my chances in winning a medal. It wasn’t easy and it’s a great feeling to see the UAE flag flight high here in Buenos Aires.
“I really must thank Sheikha Fatima for her support.”
Abdelaziz also believed his son could make the podium, especially after Omar went clear in the first two rounds.
“I always had faith in his abilities and I felt he could do it,” says Abdelaziz. “The horse did well and thanks to Omar’s efforts in training and his incredible focus, he managed to do it.
“Omar loves this sport, I don’t see him leaving it. Now he will double his efforts because this medal isn’t the end, it’s just the first step of a very long road. The best is yet to come.”
His son added: “I now have my eyes on the Olympic Games, hopefully I can make it.”
Manchester City are building on the success of their Abu Dhabi based football schools, by launching a new programme in Dubai.
The Premier League champions coach more than 1000 children every week in the capital and will expand the City Football Schools (CFS) footprint this weekend.
The CFS coaching team, who all trained and worked previously at the Etihad Campus in Manchester, will deliver football sessions to Dubai’s aspiring footballers at the sporting facilities of the newly opened Brighton College Dubai and its neighbouring school, Dwight School Dubai.
To celebrate the launch of City Football Schools Dubai, CFS will be holding free sessions for youngsters aged 3 to 16, on Saturday October 13 from 08:15 to 10.30 and throughout the week from Sunday October 14 to Thursday October 18 from 16.30 to 20.30.
Those joining the sessions will be able to get a taste of what it’s like to be a City player, take part in sessions with CFS coaches and hear all about the season ahead. Those attending the free sessions can also sign up to the new season, which will commence on Sunday October 21.
The ethos of City Football Schools is clear – they bring the principles laid out at first-team level to age group sessions, providing players with an opportunity to improve their football skills, stay healthy, make friends and have lots of fun in a positive and friendly learning environment.
Head of Football Operations MENA, Simon Hewitt, said: “It’s about enjoying football and from there the coaching team want to encourage and develop players of all ages and abilities. We’ve had a fantastic seven years with City Football Schools in Abu Dhabi and have always planned to bring the same set-up to Dubai. There is so much passion for the sport in the city.”
He added: “From this week we will be running coaching sessions in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai and it shows the determination of Manchester City to always make progress in youth development.
“All the coaches have trained at the Etihad Campus and been a part of that world class footballing facility – they bring those values and principles with them along with the
City methodology to City Football Schools at Brighton College Dubai.”
For more information or to register, visit uae.cityfootballschools.com, email [email protected] or call +971 56 538 9501.
To mark the launch of City Football Schools in Dubai, we are giving away a one-term registration so your child can train for FREE with the City coaches.
Dubai’s Victory Team will feature a strong two-boat, four-driver debut at this week’s Super Boat International (SBI) race in Clearwater, Florida, as well as the Key West World Championships, to be held between November 4-11.
Having been held for more than three decades, the SBI Championship is considered one of the most challenging races for dual-engine powerboats.
Victory Team has decided to send two boats for the annual competition.
In the first boat will be reigning class one world champions Salem Al Adidi and Gary Ballough, while the Emirati world champion Eisa Al Ali will be paired with John Tomilson.
The SBI Championship is the leading North American professional powerboat organisation for class one powerboats.
Teams from all around the world have confirmed their participation for the series of races held from May through to October in the National Series Points races.
The concluding round is the now famous Key West World Championships.
His Excellency Huraiz Bin Huraiz, chairman of Victory Team, spelt out the motives behind their first-time participation in Clearwater.
“Firstly, we need to know where we stand in the tough and demanding world of powerboat racing,” Huraiz said before the team left for the US earlier this week.
“Victory Team has been world champions in class one powerboating on several occasions, but we felt that we needed to step it up and step out of our comfort zone and see where we stand in a totally different set-up.
“No doubt this is a challenge that we feel we can face up to, especially given the talent pool of home-bred drivers and crew.
“Our leadership has always been clear on accepting bigger challenges and we feel that with our participation in Clearwater, Dubai will have yet another unique opportunity to shine on a truly world stage.”
Victory Team have already shipped two of their best boats across to Florida along with their mechanical crew.
Victory Team will first compete in the final round of the national championship this weekend (September 28-30) and then in the season-finale in Key West.
“Now is the time for the men in blue to set foot on distant lands along with their dreams,” added Huraiz.
“I am confident that our drivers and crew will be up to the challenge of contesting for the title among the best drivers and boats in the world.”