DUBAI // The UAE have shifted their focus to individual glory after bowing out of the reckoning for the men's team title at the GCC Table Tennis Championship. Their chances were dealt an ultimately fatal blow on the opening day of the tournament when they lost 1-3 to Bahrain and were edged out 2-3 by Qatar. They bounced back yesterday, however, with a battling 3-2 win over Kuwait to keep their slim medal hopes alive.
Rashid Abdul Hamid was the star of the victory, winning both his matches. In the first, he defeated Ibrahim Hassan, the GCC No1 and winner of three consecutive singles titles. With the scores level at 2-2, Hamid returned to prevail over Hussein al Bahraini in the decider. "It was a real pity to lose the first two ties," said the GCC No 2. "So we had to win this tie. We are playing at home and we could not lose all the games.
"OK, we have lost our chances of winning the gold, but we want to finish with better results. That's what we were playing for." The win over Hassan should give Hamid a major boost for the individual events, which start on Wednesday. "It was certainly a good win for the singles," said Hamid. But he was sad that a family bereavement had affected his opponent. "In the end when I won, I was not so happy," he said.
"Usually when I win against Ibrahim I am so happy. But then I know his present situation and also the fact that this result does not affect us much. "Still it was a good win and we are looking forward to the doubles and singles. We feel ready. Even if we finish last in the team events, I believe we have a very good chance in the individual events." The UAE juniors defeated Bahrain 3-1 for their second win to stay in the hunt for a medal. They had earlier trounced Saudi Arabia 3-1 and are currently second behind Qatar.