IN PICS: How Team UAE fared at Rio 2016

Reem Abulleil 16/08/2016
Each of the 13 UAE athletes.

Saud Al Zaabi’s exit from the 1,500m heats on Tuesday closed the curtain on the UAE’s participation at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Al Zaabi, 28, was last in his heat of 13 runners, clocking 4:02.35 to cross the finish line over 17 seconds slower than 12th-placed Santino Kenyi.

This was the first time that Al Zaabi represented the UAE at a non-police-related international competition.

The Abu Dhabi Police employee is an 800m specialist but was selected by the UAE Athletics Federation to take the allotted wildcard entry given to the country by the IOC and IAAF.

Following Al Zaabi’s exit in the heats, the UAE delegation leaves Rio with varying degrees of success.

Naturalised Moldovan Sergiu Toma claimed the nation’s second-ever Olympic medal – and first since 2004 –with a bronze in the under-81kg judo competition. Team-mate Ivan Remarenco bowed out of the 100kg tournament in the opening round and Victor Scvortov was eliminated at the round of 16 in the 73kg judo.

Distance runner Alia Saeed finished a modest 23rd in the 10,000m race while her fellow Ethiopian-born Emirati, Betlhem Desalegn Belayneh, did not start her 1,500m heat due to a hamstring injury.

Shooters Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum and Saif bin Futtais, finished 17th and 29th respectively in the skeet qualification round, while Khaled Al Kaabi was an impressive ninth in double trap qualification before ending just one target short of making the semi-finals.

Eslewhere, flag-bearer Nada Al Bedwawi became the UAE’s first female Olympic swimmer after participating in the 50m freestyle heats, while fellow history maker Ayesha Al Balooshi ended up finishing seventh in the women’s 58kg weightlifting.

In cycling, the country’s first rider to take part in the Olympics road race, Yousif Mirza, was forced to abandon the competition due to a crash that blocked his path. Finally, swimmer Yaaqoub Al Saadi exited the 100m backstroke in the heats, placing 37th.

The secretary general of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare Ibrahim Abdul Malik admitted that more needs to be done in order to groom Olympic champions from the UAE ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“We need to have a clear vision for preparation starting right now,” said Abdul Malik.

“Federations have no resources sufficient to groom Olympic champions over four years. We have to turn our focus to individual sports and reshape the Olympic culture.

“We have the talent, resources and legislations to make this happen, though it is still extremely difficult.

“The three stakeholders – the government, the authority and the UAE National Olympic Committee – have to provide the human and financial resources as well as the infrastructure.

“We have to recruit the best coaches, and construct an Olympic centre because right now, the only solution is to send our athletes overseas for camps which are very costly. What we do now is nothing more than personal initiatives.”

Most popular

Carl Lewis hits out at fans booing Justin Gatlin

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Gatlin has unsurprisingly divided opinion.

Track and field legend Carl Lewis described the crowd’s booing of American Justin Gatlin ahead of the 100m – something that’s likely to be repeated in the 200m semis on Wednesday and final on Thursday – as inappropriate.

Gatlin has twice served a doping ban, and the crowd did not hold back in showing their displeasure on Sunday night.

“I thought it was inappropriate. I think the whole thing is that everyone is trying to have it both ways,” said Lewis, who claimed a remarkable nine Olympic gold medals during his career that spanned 17 years.

“The bottom line is he’s abiding by the rules, but then we’re mad about the rules. So I think it was inappropriate. I don’t think it’s fair that people in the sport – they set rules, they set situations and then they turn around and complain about people.

“If you don’t want them to be there, then change the rule. And I think the powers that be in the sport who publicly speak out against him – it’s just unfair.

“I’m not defending him, I’m defending what’s right. What’s right it that you treat people with dignity and I don’t think he was treated with much dignity and whether it was Sunday or any time – I think the public is given a pass to do that because the powers that be in our sport speak out against him. Well, it’s your rules.”

That dignity was certainly not afforded to French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie in Monday night’s final which was won by Brazil’s Thiago da Silva. It that had nothing to do with sports authorities, rather a passionate home crowd who simply couldn’t hold themselves back.

There was jeering and whistling when Lavillenie was jumping, Brazilians in attendance willing the defending champion to fail, which he eventually did but not before giving the crowd the thumbs down before his final attempt.

“It is the first time I saw this kind of crowd, I have competed in many, many competitions, in many, many countries and it is the first time everyone is against not only me, but all the pole vaulters apart from the Brazilian,” complained Lavillenie afterwards.

“There is no respect, there is no fair play. If we have no respect in the Olympics, where can we have it? I am very, very sad and disappointed about the Brazilian public which was in the stadium today.

“You see it in football. It is the first time I have seen it in track and field. It is the biggest moment of your life. I can’t be happy about that. Now I have to wait four years to get back the gold.

“For the Olympics it is not a good image. I did nothing to the Brazilians. In 1936 [at the Berlin Olympic Games] the crowd was against American Jesse Owens. We’ve not seen this since. We have to deal with it.”

Lavillenie later apologised on Twitter for the Owens comment, but still could not hide the disappointment with the treatment he endured.

Most popular

Why Krishan fell short of a boxing medal at Rio 2016

Ishan Sen 16/08/2016
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Krishnan in an earlier victory.

Pitted against Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev in the quarter-finals of the middle-weight (75 kg) category, Indian boxer Vikas Krishan had had several demons to overcome in order to defeat his opponent and ensure his country of an elusive Olympic medal.

At 20, Melikuziev is four years younger than Krishan but having faced him in the Asian Championships last year, he had no qualms about admitting the skills of the Uzbek before the encounter. He even went as far as predicting he could claim gold if he managed to beat Melikuziev.

On Monday night, Krishan’s fears materialised before him. He struggled to find answers to the Uzbek’s questions and was left rattled by his opponent’s fleet of foot aggression. Krishan gave a good fight, but his helplessness was captured as his mouth guard was flung from his mouth after a rasping Melikuziev punch.

With Melikuziev on the verge of victory at two rounds to none, Krishan needed a knockout to turn things in his favour. His desperation, though, left him vulnerable and Melikuziev took advantage to land a series of decisive blows and seal the bout 3-0.

Speaking about the loss, Krishan was candid about lack of preparations.

“I always have a problem with a southpaw, whether it was in the last Olympic Games or in the qualifiers for Rio,” he said, “I knew that he would play the second round very fast. There was a lot of difference in power strokes between the two of us.”

Indeed, being a southpaw is not the most rewarding in a country like India.

“I did some practice against southpaws, but in India you hardly find such boxers. There are less than five per cent of them. I didn’t find any at my level.”

Another reason put forward by the pugilist is the administrative debacle that shook the boxing world and resulted in the Indian federation’s banning in 2012 following allegations of corruption and electoral manipulations. Krishan, however, stopped short of laying the blame for his defeat at someone else’s door and took full responsibility.

“We have a handful of opportunities,” he said. “We used to train with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but with the ban on federation we lost the opportunity and nobody called us. But I am not blaming the Federation; I lost because of my mistakes. I may have trained less than him.”

The sheer number of Indians qualifying for this year’s Olympics – three, in contrast to seven men and one woman in 2012 – should illustrate the affect of the country’s controversy on boxing in India. Not only had they lost out on international exposure, but they’d also seen their preparations hampered.

Indian boxing has suffered greatly over recent years, the ultimate consequence being a disastrous campaign at Rio. With Shiva Thapa (56 kg) and Manoj Kumar (64 kg) already ousted from the competition, Krishan’s defeat drew a conclusion to medal hopes for the country in boxing this time around.

Most popular