x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Emirati Darwish needs a jump in class to prepare for Olympics

Lack of challenges for Mohammed Abbas Darwish as other hopefuls push for qualification outside the country.

Mohammed Abbas Darwish has lined up an intense travel schedule to prepare better.
Mohammed Abbas Darwish has lined up an intense travel schedule to prepare better.

DUBAI // The country's leading male hope for automatic qualification for the Olympics in athletics prepared for what could turn out to be an intense programme of travel by winning the triple jump at the UAE President's Cup yesterday.

Mohammed Abbas Darwish is so far ahead of the competition in this country that he was virtually unopposed in winning at the Police Stadium in Dubai.

Now he will pursue the Games standard of 16.85 metres at a series of official qualifying events which could take him to Bulgaria, the UK, France and Morocco before the July 8 cut off.

Next week Darwish will travel to Bulgaria, the homeland of his coach, Svetoslav Topuzov, who hopes his young charge will be pushed towards qualification for London 2012 by a greater standard of competition than he is regularly exposed to.

"We have to go to Europe to try to make the standard there because we do not have strong athletes to fight Mohammed here," Topuzov said.

"He is fighting with himself at this competition [the President's Cup]. We will try to make the qualification."

While Darwish represents the best chance of UAE participation in athletics in London later this summer, the two female distance runners who hope to compete in the 5,000m at the Games have settled on their next move.

Alia Mohammed Saeed and Bethlem Desalyn, who missed out on the B standard time at a specially convened event in Dubai last month, will try again at a meeting in Rabat, Morocco on May 27.

"We are chasing the qualification," said Ahmed Al Kamali, the president of the UAE Athletics Federation.

"If we can have the three of them [qualifying for the Games] that is fine. We cannot have a bigger number than this."

Darwish's success on the runway provided the lone reason for cheer for Al Wasl Club, in a President's Cup that was otherwise dominated by their Dubai rivals Al Ahli.

Ahli, the country's leading athletics club, continued their monopoly of the season-ending competition, winning the overall points title in the two-day event for the fifth year running.

pradley@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE & Paul Radley @PaulRadley