LONDON // Mohammed Abbas Darwish, the UAE’s final competitor at London 2012, went the same way as the rest of his compatriots yesterday when he failed to progress beyond the opening phase of competition in the triple jump.
The UAE took its largest ever contingent of sportsmen to the UK for these Games, but a place in a final of any competition ranging from football to weightlifting to judo has proved elusive.
However, it is clear a marker of the shifting perspectives of Emirati athletes that Darwish’s main sentiment following his first round departure in the triple jump was one of overwhelming disappointment.
In the past, UAE track and field athletes appearing in the main stadium in front of 80,000 people at an Olympics have just been happy to compete.
However Darwish, who only started to focus on triple jump three years ago, already has his eyes on progress, and is targeting a finals place at the Rio Games in four years’ time.
“It was not good, but this is all more experience for me,” the 26 year old athlete said of his morning competition.
“I will be much better for it in the next Olympic Games. I hope that will be the case. This is not the end of it, I will not stop here.”
Darwish was not the only competitor to struggle on the runway yesterday. Even the discipline’s elite athletes complained that the swirling wind was making conditions testing.
The Al Wasl jumper fouled on his first attempt, then jumped to 16.06 metres in the second round. It was a long way short of his personal best, but it was his best effort inLondon, as he could only manage 15.93m with his third jump.
“I cannot say what went wrong,” Darwish said. “It was cold and a little windy, but I felt fine in the warm up before hand. After that I don’t know what happened to me.
“It was obviously a big crowd but I have experienced this before, in China [at the Asian Games, when Darwish competed on the same day as the home favourite Liu Xiang, the 110m hurdler]. It was the same situation there and I was fine.
“I fouled my first jump, and after that I made a technical problem in my second, on the connection between the first and second [the hop and step].
“Hopefully we can fix that. I will continue and will be better next time. In four years’ time we will see.”
Svetoslav Topuzov, the Bulgarian coach who turned Darwish from a pole vaulter and high jumper to the triple jump three years ago, believes the UAE’s foremost athlete is on the right path.
“Perfect technique takes a minimum of four or five years,” Topuzov said. “Mohammed is only just learning about this now.”
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