x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Time Frame: UAE makes grand entrance on Olympic stage in Los Angeles

Fourteen nations boycotted the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, but the event went on despite being overshadowed by the Cold War.

AP Photo
AP Photo

Los Angeles, 1984. The summer games are marked by a boycott of 14 Eastern Bloc countries led by the Soviet Union.

But 140 nations did take part in the XXIII Olympiad and, for the first time, one of the them was the United Arab Emirates, seen here at the opening ceremony on July 28. According to records, the flag bearer was Mubarak Ismail Amber, a runner who competed in the 400 metres and the 4x400 relay.

The all-male team was composed of seven athletes, including the long jumper Shahad Mubarak. None reached the finals of their events.

Beyond the UAE's participation, the games were initially overshadowed by the Cold War. The official reason for the boycott was given as security concerns but, in reality, it was tit-for-tat after the US refused to attend the Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet Union's Afghanistan invasion.

As the Olympic flame died on August 12, the games were remembered for more uplifting moments: Carl Lewis making the first of his four Olympic appearances; Sebastian Coe (now the chairman of the London Olympics organising committee) winning the 1,500 metres for the second time; and Carlos Lopes bringing home Portugal's first gold in the marathon.

And then there was Morocco's Nawal El Moutawakel, the first Muslim woman champion, in the 400 metres hurdles. The UAE was eventually to strike Olympic gold. That story comes next week.

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae