Thursday, December 14, 2006

Asia Games: UAE wins endurance gold

The flag of the United Arab Emirates was flying high when HH Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum won gold by crossing the finish line of the first Asian Games equestrian endurance ride to claim the individual gold medal after a gruelling 120km race through the Qatar desert.

It was a dream finish for the UAE's Al Maktoum family, concluded the first ever Asian Games equestrian endurance competition. The team of four brothers finished with the gold medal and the eldest, HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, claimed individual gold on Magic Glenn, also known as Nashmi or 'The Brave' in Arabic.
"WHOOO!!!! I'm just over the moon," HH Sheikh Rashid whooped with joy as he finished. "The horse is very good. It was fresh till the end. Our team is still in the lead and now I am waiting for my brothers and hopefully we will make gold.�

The three Al Maktoum brothers, HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Mohammed, HH Sheikh Ahmad Bin Mohammed and HH Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed, came in with a riding time of 18:55:23 for the 120 kilometres.

Fourth member of the team, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum counted as the team's dropped score, after his horse was eliminated at the third vetiniary gate.

The Bahraini team, with two of its riders finishing, clinched silver. Bahrain's best rider, HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, riding Shar Rushkin, took individual silver, after crossing the finish line just over three minutes after the winner.

HH Sheikh Nasser had opted to ride the last lap alongside HH Sheikh Rashid. On the final 10km of the race HH Sheikh Nasser told reporters: "I need a massage."

The third rider to cross the finish line was Dubai businessman Sultan Bin Sulayem, starting as an individual rider for the UAE.

Time-keeping proved to be a problem at this first Asian Games endurance ride and, after the first two laps, the ground jury and their team of stewards resolved to register the times manually by stopwatch.

What was planned to be a first for a modern timing system that works through an electronic chip to be read by a base unit, did not work satisfactorily and was abandoned during the competition.

The final results took some time to compute, when Qatar�s Fahad Mohammed Adhajri was confirmed as fourth place in the individual event.

In the team event, Qatar performed better, receiving the bronze medal, behind winners UAE and second-placed Bahrain.

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