Thursday April 19, 2018

Level of UAE sport "embarrassing" - gold medal winner

Posted Thu 09 Aug 2012 02:08:10 pm in News, Sports | By News Desk

The UAE’s only Olympic medal winner has said the Gulf state must do more to encourage children to take up sports to improve the current “embarrassing” level of competitiveness.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, who won gold in the double men’s trap during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, told a Dubai newspaper that like many other Arab countries “lags far behind the rest of the world in sport.”

“The level of sport here is embarrassing,” he added. “In shooting there are only a handful of private ranges. There’s no academy for schools... Looking for an Olympic champion is far harder than finding a diamond.”

“A lot money in the UAE is spent on the wrong projects. Of all the money spent on sport here, 50 to 70 percent is spent on football. It’s a shame,” he said.

Sporting officials can only do so much, he added. “The government is busy running the country. The role of parents is important. Children spend too much time on their iPhones and in malls. They have to do sport for the good of themselves and the UAE.”

“They can still drive their Lamborghinis, but drive them to a sports club.”

Thirty UAE nationals headed to this year’s London Olympics to compete in a wide range of sports including football, triple jump and weightlifting, but so far the Gulf state has yet to win a medal.

Sheikh Ahmed, who retired after competing in China, is the only UAE national to ever win a medal at an Olympic Games. Last week Great Britain’s shooter Peter Wilson, who won the Olympic gold in double trap, paid tribute to Sheikh Ahmed, who has been training him since 2008.

“I was fortunate to get back with Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum and get back to a level where I was back on the funding programme and from there it has been an incredible journey and I have had an amazing four years and to come up with an Olympic gold is just an amazing feeling,” Wilson said.

“[Every] February I go out to Dubai for a month. And that is an opportunity to bulk train. I go out to see Ahmed and get a chance to shoot a huge amount of targets,” the Brit added.

Previous story: