Wednesday, December 13, 2006
By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Reporter
Doha: The UAE endurance team is confident of a good showing in today's 120-km ride which has on offer medals in both the team and individual categories.
The UAE team will, however, now have only five riders as only five horses were available. Ali Mohammad Al Muhairi will sit out the ride, which is making its debut at the Asian Games.
But Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, who leads the team, was talking up their chances.
"We have won major competitions before and this is a prestigious event for us. We are representing the UAE and it is a matter of pride," he told Gulf News at the weighing in.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, who is a multiple gold medal winner in international championships, is expected to be present to guide the UAE team.
"We will be following the instructions of our father and we will go all out to see the UAE flag fluttering high," Rashid added. "Hosts Qatar and Bahrain are also very strong but we hope to do well."
Shaikh Rashid and his brothers Shaikh Hamdan, Shaikh Ahmad and Shaikh Majid will be bidding to create history at the Games.
It is the first time that four brothers will be representing a team and attempting to win a medal. Sultan Bin Sulayem will be the other rider in the individual event. "The UAE squad is a team with the highest record of wins. It does not matter that we are one rider short as this could have happened soon after the start of the ride as well. We will go for gold," said Saeed Al Tayer, Vice-President, Dubai Equestrian Club. Kamel Armor, Jazyk, Muneef, Iknour De La Bire and Nashmi are the horses that the UAE riders will be aboard.
The three best timings of the team will count towards the team medal classification while all five riders will compete for the gold, silver and bronze.
Around 45 riders are expected to start in the 120-km event run over five loops.
"We hope it does not rain in the night as it will make it difficult for the horses," said endurance trainer Esmail Mohammad.
Hosts Qatar start with a big advantage as they have 12 riders in the fray while Bahrain is expected to pose a strong threat to the UAE's medal chances.
By Steph - December 13, 2006
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