the more rare and poignant moments during the Beijing Olympic
Games, one or two definitely stand out. One of these is the
resolve of American Michael Phelps in the swimming pool, and the
other is adoration for Usain Bolt’s sheer brilliance on the
Phelps and Bolt were the heroes this time; one with his amazing
tally of eight gold medals, and the second with his three golds
- the only athlete since Carl Lewis to make a clean sweep of the
However, against this backdrop of great feats, some countries
were falling short of fulfilling their potential or
expectations. The UAE was among these countries. Embarking on an
Olympic Games with an eight-member contingent, the UAE returned
without any medals.
The athletes gave it their best with Athens gold medalist Sheikh
Ahmed Mohammad Bin Hasher Al Maktoum leading the way. Sheikh
Ahmed chose the trap competition. He lurked among the
contenders, but the second and final day of trap shooting saw
the UAE shooter slip down into 30th place. Immediately after
that, Sheikh Ahmed called in to announce his retirement from the
sport of shooting.
Downhearted to see his beloved sport being mismanaged by
authorities, Sheikh Ahmed then attended the double trap final.
He struggled to find the same form that saw him clinch gold in
Athens four years ago; he fought to finish in seventh. The UAE’s
second shooter did not fare too well as Sheikh Saeed, the
32-year-old silver medalist at the Doha Asian Games in 2006, was
pushed down into 22nd place after two days of qualifying in the
Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum had had a near
perfect preparation for the Olympics. Despite this, she insisted
that she would never totally be prepared for such a huge
occasion. When she was drawn to fight against world champion and
ultimate gold medal winner Hwang Kyung-seon of South Korea in
the 67kg category, Sheikha Maitha’s lack of world-class
competition experience showed as she bowed out of the
competition. “We were there for the experience,” Sheikha Maitha
insisted. Her next goal is to make it to the 2012 London
Shaikha Latifa Bint Ahmed Al Maktoum competed in Hong Kong in
show jumping competition. After the first day, Shaikha Latifa
had drawn 11 penalty points with her horse Kalaska De Semilly.
By the end of the second day, she had slipped to 54th place
overall after picking up a total of 26 penalty points.
The UAE’s run for medals had begun with swimmer Obaid Al Jasmi,
who had qualified for the 100 metres freestyle. Prior to his
departure, the 26 year old had promised to re-write the UAE
national record. Al Jasmi lived up to his promise with a new UAE
record of 53.29 seconds. “I had promised to set a new UAE
national record and I achieved my goal. These swimmers have been
in training for the past four years at least, whereas I trained
for less than two months,” he commented.
Next up was judoka Saeed Al Qubaisi. The 18-year-old came up
against some tough opposition and he lasted just one round
against South Africa’s Marlon August in the preliminary round of
the under-73kg class. Al Qubaisi, who started training from the
time he turned 12, could not match the South African’s superior
match experience as he was thrown by his opponent to lose by an
ippon (a full point).
young Omar Al Salfa did his best in the 200 metre sprint heats,
to end in seventh with a time of 21 seconds flat. However, the
good thing about the youngster is that he has a long career
ahead of him should he train well and gather more experience.
Sailor Adil Khalid also had to face a number of competitive
sportsmen in the Laser sailing. The best Adil Khalid could
achieve was a credible 11th place in one of the eight heats.
At the end of another Olympics, the UAE had to return
empty-handed with no medals to boast about. However, the
athletes are all the more wiser with added resolve and valuable
experience to go on and do better when London stages the Games