UAE must adopt new approach for Olympic future
Sheikh Ahmed became the UAE’s first, and to date only, Olympic gold medalist (pictured) at the 2004 Athens Games with victory in the double-trap shooting.
He arrived home from London 2012 this week having coached Brit Peter Wilson to victory in the same event.
The UAE team had several Olympians in action in various sports in the UK capital, but not one of them came close to joining Sheikh Ahmed on the podium.
He feels it will be the same in future Games unless the mentality towards sport in the UAE changes.
“The UAE is a great country but like other Arab countries we lag far behind the rest of the world in sport,” Sheikh Ahmed told 7DAYS.
He added: “The level of sport here is embarrassing.”
Sheikh Ahmed added: “In shooting there are only a handful of private ranges. There’s no academy for schools... Looking for an Olympic champion is far harder than finding a diamond.”
He also took aim at sporting bodies in the UAE, claiming not enough money is spent in the right areas.
Referring to the world-class swimming pool in Dubai, constructed for the short-course world championships last year, he said: “How many Emiratis go there every week?
“A lot money in the UAE is spent on the wrong projects. Of all the money spent on sport here, 50 to 70 per cent is spent on football. It’s a shame.”
However, Sheikh Ahmed insists sporting officials can only do so much.
He said: “The government is busy running the country. The role of parents is important. Children spend too much time on their iPhones and in malls. They have to do sport for the good of themselves and the UAE.” He added: “They can still drive their Lamborghinis, but drive them to a sports club.”