x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Emirati duo hit the pool to swim for an Olympic wild card

Obaid Al Jasmi stated his case for the UAE's lone swimming berth at the London 2012 Olympics with a time 11 seconds better than his rival Mubarak Salem Al Bashir in the 200-metre individual medley.

Obaid Al Jasmi, left, talks things over with coach Jay Benner in Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai during a practice session in early April.
Obaid Al Jasmi, left, talks things over with coach Jay Benner in Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai during a practice session in early April.

DUBAI // Obaid Al Jasmi staked his claim to the UAE's lone swimming berth at the London Olympics in the most demonstrative terms possible with a second day of dominance at the National Winter Championships yesterday.

The Abu Dhabi-based swimmer set the seal on the weekend's competition by beating Mubarak Salem Al Bashir, his friend and rival, by 11 seconds in the 200 metres individual medley (IM).

The duo are competing for the one wild-card invitation place that the UAE Swimming Federation are likely to be afforded for the Games later this summer.

Al Jasmi is the holder of multiple national records, but knows he still has much to prove if he is to snatch the place from his younger national teammate.

This weekend was the Al Wahda swimmer's first competition since he underwent surgery to correct a heart condition.

Members of the federation have expressed doubt that he could recover in time to compete at a suitable standard at the Olympics.

The relationship between the 30 year old swimmer and the governing body has also been strained after he voiced criticism of them on an Arabic television channel last week.

"I wanted to show them I am still here and that the Olympics [invitation] should be for me and no one else," said Al Jasmi, who set a national record in the 400m IM on Friday.

"This is good for me, after just three weeks of training [since recovering from heart surgery] to break my record in the 400m and get close to my best in the 200m."

After his success this weekend, Al Jasmi now plans to step up his training schedule by joining Hamilton Aquatics, the highly successful expatriate club.

Hamilton are already certain to have one representative at the Olympics, in the form of Velimir Stjepanovic, the Serbian swimmer, who has lived in the UAE all his life.

Stjepanovic, who is a potential finalist in the 200m butterfly at the Games, also competed this weekend for the first time since a stomach bug kept him out of the pool for eight days.

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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