DUBAI // A host of national and international luminaries were recognised yesterday at the annual Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards for their achievements during the past 12 months.
Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, was awarded the International Sports Figure of the Year in absentia, while the British Olympic Association were recognised for their work in successfully hosting last summer's Olympic Games.
It was the recognition given to local and Arab talent, however, that drew the largest cheers from a packed ballroom at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which was attended by Diego Maradona and Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president.
Taoufik Al Makhloufi, the Algerian track and field specialist who won gold in the 1,500m in London, was awarded Individual Arab Athlete of the Year, while Djibril Al Rujoub, the president of the Palestine Football Association, won Arab Administrator of the Year.
Morocco's Najja Al Kara'a was also recognised for her achievement in setting a new world record in discus at the Paralympic Games.
Closer to home, the UAE's Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani took National Athlete of the Year and the Al Nasr table tennis side claimed National Team of the Year. The UAE Wrestling, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Kick-boxing Federation claimed the National Institution of the Year award.
Blatter, who delivered the keynote speech, said sport was intrinsically linked with society and culture and commended Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his initiative to recognise contributors to sport both at home and abroad.
"Let us live together in this idea of sports culture, sport education and sport emotion," Blatter said. "And let us live every day because every day is the present and the present is from God".
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