Aisha Al Balooshi after her Rio exploits — and on the occasion of Emirati Women’s Day — has vowed to strive for gold at the forthcoming Jordan Weightlifting tournament to be held next month.
“I want to really do well in Jordan and I will not come back without winning a medal there,” said Aisha, who revealed that the Olympics was a dream come true for her and it has inspired several Emirati women in the UAE.
“Olympics was a dream. I was exciting and the experience was great. I’m proud of myself and for what I did. I’m sure on the occasion of Emirati Women’s day there will be many women who will feel proud of what I did in Rio. I’m sure there will be many who will now be inspired to pick-up weightlifting,” said Aisha, after posing with young fans at the Yas Mall on Sunday.
“My life changed a lot. Lots of things go into fulfilling ones Olympic dream. A lot has changed from before and now. Five years back when I took to weightlifting very few knew about the sport or about me. Now they know me and also know about our weightlifting team,” said Aisha who managed a total of 162kg (72kg in the snatch and 90 in the clean and jerk) at Rio.
Aisha revealed that many weightlifters from various countries not only came and spoke to her at Rio but also congratulated her for following her passion.
“Almost half of the weightlifters present there now know me. They were all cheering me up and gave me a lot of confidence. They said you are from an Arab country and you should be proud of yourself for what you did right now,” recalled Aisha, who has won 13 gold medals, six silvers and four bronze in regional and Arab championships.
Though Aisha was upbeat about the number of women taking up weightlifting in UAE increasing, she urged parents to give their full support.
“I expect we will have a lot of girls taking to weightlifting. Now we have six girls and the plan for next year is to have at least one school taking up weightlifting. People should not be ashamed of women when it comes to sport — especially if it is weightlifting,” said Aisha, adding that people have to understand that these women are not doing something “wrong”.
“We are representing UAE and in a very heavy and dangerous sport and there is a lot of risk. People should be open minded and should not take it negatively. They should just give their girl child full support.”
Aisha also called for greater support for weightlifting in the country and urged sponsors to come forward and support the sport.
“We don’t have any support right now from corporates and still our federation is paying for us to represent UAE. The main problem is that we have poor sponsorship. The federation is supporting us with what they have but it is not enough. We don’t have big sponsors like you see for other sports,” said Aisha.
“Hopefully we too will get some strong sponsors. We are still trying and our team manager is also trying. I believe from next year onwards many more countries in the region will have more representation in regional tournament and so we too will have to keep improving.”
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