x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Emirati pioneer Omeir Saeed set to leave everyone in his wake

Twice-a-week training has led 16-year-old student at BSAK to professional pursuit and Wake Park World Championship.

Omeir Saeed, 16, a student at British School Al Khubairat, has been practising twice a week for the Wakeboard Championship. Antonie Robertson / The National
Omeir Saeed, 16, a student at British School Al Khubairat, has been practising twice a week for the Wakeboard Championship. Antonie Robertson / The National

ABU DHABI // Omeir Saeed will become the first Emirati to compete in the professional division of the World Wakeboard Association (WWA) Wake Park World Championship at the three-day event at the Al Forsan International Sport Resort on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old student from The British School Al Khubairat has made remarkable progress since making his debut in a local event a month before the first world championship in Abu Dhabi in 2011.

Such is Saeed’s dedication he has learnt most of the skills and the tricks off his own back while also balancing training with his school studies. “I got hooked from that time. I started pushing myself. I trained very hard to make sure one day I will compete as a professional,” he said. “I developed my skills on my own by watching videos and also got some help from the Al Forsan staff.

“They taught me a few tricks.

“I ride twice a week, usually on Thursday and Saturday because of my schooling.

“Hopefully in the future, when I start university, I would like to train more than the two-day per week.”

Rob Corum, the WWA’s executive director, has seen Emirati interest in the championships grow over the past few years and said he was looking forward to seeing Saeed showcase his repertoire of moves around the Al Forsan track.

“Fast forward to now and you’ll see riders such as Omeir, one of those original Emirati riders, and you’ll see all sorts of high-calibre riding from him,” said Corum.

“Omeir is now throwing down tricks like 313s, front side 7s, and technical transfers. It’s going to be super fun at this year’s championships to see how he rides.

“He is the local favourite and has definitely spent more time on the water at Al Forsan than any other wakeboarder.”

It is a big moment in Saeed’s career, yet the teenager seemed in relaxed mood when asked about competing against some of the world’s elite wakeboarders.

“You never know what to expect when you are competing against professionals,” he said.

“All the riders are really good and you never know the outcome. We’ll see how it goes for me in the competition.”

Saeed hopes a good showing in Abu Dhabi will be the first stepping stone to competing in tournaments on the world stage, but said his studies must come first for now.

“I may have a little extra time when I enter university,” he said.

“That’s the time I would love to compete in the international events.

“But for now, until I complete my schooling, it would be restricted to a few competitions.”

Saeed, like most boys his age, plays football during his free time but says he was always interested in extreme sports.

“I did snowboarding and got really good at that,” he said.

“One of my friends took me to Al Forsan for wakeboarding and that’s how I got into this sport.

“Now it’s only wakeboarding and one day I hope to become a professional and compete in the world circuit as a regular.”

James Windsor and Angelika Schriber, the men and women world title holders, spearhead a top-notch field in the third World Wakeboard Association (WWA) Wake Park World Championship at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort from Wednesday until Friday.

The top two riders also heading to Abu Dhabi are Tom Fooshee and Daniel Grant. Fosohee is one of the most respected and leading riders in the world circuit for a long time.

“I am the oldest competitor in my category, but competing against all those youngsters around me gives me a big thrill,” said the 29 year old American.

“The youngsters in the world circuit have been amazingly quick. It is always a thrill when these youngsters come out there and give me a hard time in the competitions.”

The Abu Dhabi leg of the championship has drawn the leading riders from around the world.

“Abu Dhabi is one of the most popular venues of the world championship for its excellent facilities and has already drawn the best riders from around the world,” Rob Corum, the executive director of the WWA, said.

The WWA announced the extension of their three-year deal with Abu Dhabi by another three years to 2016.

apassela@thenational.ae