Aisha Al Balushi raises bar on women participation in Rio Olympics

Published August 3rd, 2016 - 03:12 GMT
Aisha Al Balushi (Photo:
Aisha Al Balushi (Photo:

The UAE’s weightlifting star Aisha Al Balushi, arrived in Rio to join her compatriots competing in the Rio Olympic Games from 5th to 21st August.

Aisha, who is the ninth UAE athlete set to compete in the Games, stated that she aims to present a correct image of women’s sports in the UAE and the huge support accorded to the sport. She revealed that her aim would be to achieve and represent the country in the best possible shape.

She noted that her training period was very good, but short. She confirmed that she had recovered from a knee injury, thanks to the balance maintained between training and rest by her coach. However, she noted that other athletes had started their preparations four years ago, rendering it difficult for her to compete against countries established in this discipline. But she still vowed to make a decent show of it.

She further added that the raising of the state flag by swimmer Nada Al Badwawi in the opening parade is a clear message to the world about the engagement of the UAE’s women in all events.

Rida Ayaashi, coach of the UAE weightlifting team, said that the Asian Games in Tashkent had groomed seven strong female weightlifters, but Aisha Al Balushi was entrusted with the honour of representing the nation, and is worthy of proving her merit on 8th August.

At the Georgia camp, they focussed on personal discipline and capitalised on the advanced level achieved by the talented Aisha, he continued.

"We do not want to proclaim that we will win a medal, but what we have achieved so far is great for the UAE’s weightlifting discipline as the team has qualified for the second time for the Olympics. If this continues, we will not be far away from a coronation in that event. All athletes who have arrived in Rio are continuing their daily training in stadia and their stay in the village is a smooth experience," he said.

Meanwhile, Khaled Al Kaabi and bin Fettais continued training for the shooting events. The UAE Ambassador Khalid Khalifa Al Mualla was present at the shooting range along with Nasir Ghareeb, UAE NOC Technical Director. The UAE Chef De Mission thanked Al Mualla and the diplomatic corps for their support.

The UAE shooter Saif bin Fettais concluded the final preparations in the shooting ranges, which will be closed for formal training from 11th August and is getting ready for the skeet events on 12th & 13th August, together with Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum, who will arrive in Rio on 7th August.

He stated that he needed to come early to acclimatise and train on the competition range. He cited the challenges ahead but noted the long training and sacrifices made along the road to Rio. He reflected on the solid skates, which the IOC and the IF had promised to replace with Flexi Skates, but they were astonished to find that the solid skates are still there for competition. He even said that the delegation management should have made an objection, as it was not fair to train on skates different from the ones to compete on.

He added that the shooting range does not measure up to an Olympic event of this scale and falls short of other ranges. But he accepted that such challenges were known beforehand and they were determined to beat the competition and make a bold show for the UAE’s athletes. He praised the huge efforts of the UAE delegation, and played down the problems experienced in the Olympic Village while focussing on his own training programme. He noted that pressures are part of the game and everyone has to do his level best.

The week began with a moment at the Olympic Village, as the Rio 2016 Truce Mural was inaugurated and attended by child refugees and IOC President Thomas Bach highlighted the role of sport in bringing people together. The mural has been a powerful symbol of union amongst the peoples of the world since its first appearance at the Sydney 2000 Games, and allows athletes to share their messages of peace and friendship by writing on the wall. During his speech, Bach said that the Olympic Village is the heart of the Games and is a place where people of all races and creeds live side-by-side in harmony.

"This is a place in which to share the excitement of the Games, to make friends and to share emotions. The Olympic Village is the best example, that it is possible for the world to be united, which is the true Olympic spirit," he said, adding, "The mural is there for athletes to share their messages of peace with the world." The younger generation, called the ‘millennials’, born between 1982 and 2000, will be a major factor in the success of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. At the previous Games, television or the next day's newspapers would have been a fan’s window into the action. But at the 2012 London Games, social media crashed the party as athletes interacted with fans around the world, sharing their personal experiences and sidestepping traditional media.

Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and especially Snapchat, which continues to emerge as the de facto platform for younger audiences, are allowing spectators to be a part of the Games like never before.

The head of social media for the International Olympic Committee, Alex Huot, believes they are likely to see "the biggest ever conversation" during Rio 2016.

Usain Bolt may be keeping his training and preparation behind closed doors, but has shown the world he is embracing the colourful vibe of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The fastest man on the planet tweeted a photo of himself striking his famous, celebratory pose with his arm extended skyward.

The countdown is on for Bolt, who competes in the men's 100 metres event on 14th August, the 200 metres event on 18th August, and the men's 4x100 relay on 19th August, all at the Olympic Stadium.

© Copyright 2019 Emirates News Agency (WAM)

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