Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bahrain woman rider aims high

BAHRAIN'S national endurance team rider and the only woman in the team Shaikha Najla bint Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa will start today's 120-km Gulf Energy World Junior Endurance Championship, starting at 5am at the Endurance Village in Sakhir, with ambitous plans of making a podium finish.

"I want to do my best and help my team finish in the top three," said Shaikh Najla, who is the only woman in the 12-member Bahrain team taking part in the race.

Thirty teams with 140 riders start the race in this prestigious event.

"It is an honour for me as a girl to represent my Kingdom at this prestigious event," said Shaikha Najla.

"I have prepared for this championship for quite a long time and I am now eager to prove myself."

Shaikha Najla has been training under her coach and father Shaikh Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa at the Al Fateh Stable in Sakhir.

She thanked His Majesty King Hamad for his unlimited support to equestrian sports in general and endurance races in particular.

The Bahraini team will be captained by Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa who arrived yesterday and paid a visit to the village.

Other team members are Breef first vice-president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Mohammed Abdulsamad, Abdulaziz Adam, Salem Al Otaibi, Ahmed Hassan, Shaikh Saqer bin Khalid Al Khalifa, Maytham Ahmed, Ebrahim Al Jebouri, Mohammed Abdulaziz and Fahad Sulaiman.

Rising rider Mohammed Abdulsamad said he is confident of putting up a good performance in the race after having a useful training programme.

"There are teams of top class riders taking part in the championship but for us nothing is impossible. We will do our best and hope to be among the top by end of the race," he said.

The Abdulaziz brothers, Mohammed and Ahmed, said they are keen to put up a good show in today's race.

"Being here with top riders from around the world is a big challenge for us. I have gained some experience from taking part in regional and international races for the last couple of years and I am quite confident of accompalishing a good result," said Mohammed who is the eldest of the two.


On his part, Ahmed said he is very excited to go head-to-head with some of the finest riders from across the world in such a prestigious event.

"I have been training twice a day and now I am 100 per cent fit for this race. I am also happy with the condition of the course which is very convenient," he said.

Five Arab countries - including favourites the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain - will be among the teams competing in today's race.

Meanwhile, Jordanian Royal Equestrian Federation president Princess Alya bint Al Hussain arrived in Bahrain yesterday to attend the race. She was welcomed on arrival by General Organisation for Youth and Sports president and Organising Committee chairman Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and other officials.

The UAE's Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also arrived yesterday and was welcomed on arrival by Shaikh Nasser.

Breef's endurance committee chairman Shaikh Faisal bin Rashid Al Khalifa yesterday received Qatar Equestrian Federation's endurance committee chairman Shaikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani.

A total of 45 jurors and veterinarians have been assigned by the International Equestrian Federation to supervise today's race. The jury panel is headed by its president Carol Bunting of Britain and includes jurors from Bahrain, Jordan, Italy, France, Holland, Ireland, India, the UAE and Qatar.

"Sixteen of the most experienced juries are in Bahrain since the last couple of days making sure everything goes as planned," said Robertson.

The FEI also selected 29 veterinarians from the UK, Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, Australia, Poland, Italy, Portugal, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US, India, Belgium, Dominican Republic and Bahrain.

The Bahraini veterinarians are Dr Fareeda Abdulrazzaq, Dr Adam Ubeida, Dr Sabah Al Kabie, Dr Abdulrehman Tejani, Dr Ebrahim Yousif and Dr Abbas Al Haiki.

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