The UAE sprinter Omar Juma al Sulfar is hoping to take a step towards achieving his sporting dreams this weekend as he competes in the first round of the men's 200m sprint at the 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships taking place in Berlin from Saturday. As he warms up in Sofia, Bulgaria, ahead of the biggest tournament on the world athletics calendar, al Sulfar is focusing his mind on achieving his ultimate goal, winning a medal at the international world championships.
"Winning at the world championships is my ultimate goal," said al Sulfar yesterday, speaking a day before leaving his training base to head for the championship in Germany. Sulfar will have his work cut out to feature highly in the men's 200m, where he will rub shoulders with American world champion Tyson Gay and the Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt, of Jamaica. Both sprinters have dipped below the 20 second mark in the 200m this year, with Bolt still insisting he is yet to find his best form.
Al Sulfar qualified for the 200m sprint at the Gulf Athletics Championships, hosted by Saudi Arabia in May, recording a respectable qualifying time of 20.72secs. "I have been training very hard for these championships and taking part in training camps in Italy, Tunisia and now Bulgaria," said al Sulfar. "I feel satisfied with my fitness levels. I happy with how the training has been going and I feel ready for the tournament.
"I want to improve myself and hopefully improve my world ranking. The aim is to continue getting better and this tournament is a big step towards that." Al Sulfar realises winning a medal in Berlin may be an unrealistic goal, but he is determined to keep fighting to achieve his dream. "Yes, it is far off, but I am improving and getting better all the time," continued al Sulfar. "If I cannot do it this year I will keep trying. Hopefully one day I do it. For now I just hope to make my country proud."
Al Sulfar's coach, Vasco Anguelov, has set a more realistic goal for the tournament, one that he believes the sprinter can achieve. "We want him to reach the second round," said Anguelov. "He has been training well and is looking good. "He has been running some good times. We are expecting him to make it through to the second round." Although he may not be sure a medal in Berlin, al Sulfar is already guaranteed a place in the history books as one of only two UAE athletes to qualify for an international athletics championships.