Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the National Olympic Committee, stressed that the country’s participation in continental sporting showpieces such as the Asian Games over a half-century has been fuelled by the hard work and unrelenting efforts of successive generations of athletes.
Sheikh Ahmed said the eventful journey, which began in 1978 at the 8th Asian Games in Bangkok, is poised to cross yet another glorious milestone at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which is due to start in a few days with some 12,000 athletes from 45 Asian countries in participation.
Sheikh Ahmed said: “Emirati athletes are true torchbearers for commitment and team effort, always displaying an unshakeable sense of belonging and pride in their country. This is amply evident when they represent the country in various sporting events. They always strive to improve upon prior records, driven by the desire to see their country’s name at the top or among the medals. Participation in such events also represents, for some athletes, unforgettable and profound experiences that further enhance their determination to represent the country. Every one of these athletes is inspired above all by their love for the UAE and loyalty to its leadership.”
Rallying the UAE contingent participating in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Sheikh Ahmed added: “At a time when the UAE celebrates momentous achievements and successes in manifold sectors, this occasion is yet another opportunity to cherish the UAE’s pioneering spirit and redouble efforts to further enhance its surging global stature and reputation.
“The sports sector enjoys the full support, encouragement and attention of our wise leadership. We have seen the proof of this time and again at sporting extravaganzas, with our athletes continuing to exude confidence and determination as they outperform and excel, whatever the level of competition.”
Games Village comes to life
The UAE contingent will feature across multiple disciplines at the Hangzhou Games from September 23 to October 8. More than 12,000 athletes from 45 Asian countries will compete in 40 sports and 61 disciplines, with 481 competitions being held across 54 sports facilities. Some 50,000 volunteers and 12,000 media professionals will be active across various venues.
The NOC, representing the UAE, has sent out a 140-strong sporting contingent (102 male athletes and 38 female athletes) to compete in a number of individual and group sports including Archery, Equestrian, Athletics, Swimming, Cycling, Judo, Taekwondo, Karate, Jujitsu, Fencing, Boxing, Wrestling, Basketball, Rugby, Sailing, Rowing, Chess, Golf, E-sports and Triathlon.
The Rowing, Sailing, and Boxing teams, who were the first to reach the host city, were received by Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Director of the UAE Official Sports Delegation upon their arrival. Hamad Saeed Al Matrooshi, a member of the Rowing team, will kick off the UAE’s participation in the Games on Wednesday. Al Matrooshi will step up for action when a classic 2000-metre course beckons, marking virtually a ‘traditional’ event for the first time in the history of the individual category of the Rowing competition.
The UAE Sailing team features four members namely Adel Khaled in the Alka 7 competition, Duha Al Bishr in the Alka 6 competition, Mohammed Al Zaabi in the Alka 4 competition, and Camelia Al Qubaisi in the Alka 4 competition.
The UAE Boxing team features four pugilists competing in different weight categories. Mohammed Saeed Al-Hefeiti will feature in the Plus-90 kg category while Hussein Al-Shammar will feature in the 70 kg category. Nawaf Ali Khamis Al-Zahmi will step into the ring in the 57 kg category and Sultan Al Nuaimi will feature in the 52 kg category. The team has held regular training sessions since arriving in Hangzhou, backing up its intensive preparations with an internal camp in China in tandem with the Chinese, Uzbek and Malaysian Federations.
Preparations in full swing
Meanwhile, the UAE Official Sports Delegation in Hangzhou has intensified its preparations to receive representatives of the 20 teams participating in the 19th Asian Games. They also checked on the accommodation and facilities made available for each team in the main Sports Village and the four sub-villages hosting the Cycling, Triathlon, Equestrian, Sailing and Taekwondo competitions.
The UAE’s Official Sports Delegation also held a range of meetings with directors of delegations of other participating countries. The delegation held detailed discussions with representatives of 24 countries. Many administrative, technical and logistical aspects were discussed, as well as plans to streamline the arrivals of teams and their journeys from the main sports village, sub-villages, and venues for competitions and training.
In the presence of Ahmed Al Tayeb, the UAE delegation met with the team of volunteers who will accompany the delegation throughout all competitions, starting with the opening ceremony and right until the conclusion of the Games. Arrangements to receive sports, administrative and medical delegations until the final stage of the Games and subsequent return home were reviewed.
On Thursday, six more teams will arrive in Hangzhou namely the Rugby, Shooting, Swimming, Fencing, Cycling and Chess teams. They will join the teams already in the Sports Village, who arrived earlier this month. The Judo team will subsequently reach the host city after the conclusion of its two-week joint training camp in Tokyo, Japan.