x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Girls give 'a lot of hope for the future' of UAE Athletics

Athletics president encouraged by the young competitors in trials for the Under 17 GCC Championships.

Mariam Shah won gold in the 4x100m relay with her Dubai team and individually took gold in the 100m and 200m.
Mariam Shah won gold in the 4x100m relay with her Dubai team and individually took gold in the 100m and 200m.

DUBAI // Mariam Shah and Shahad Jassem Budebs served notice of their potential to become Olympics contenders yesterday when they won three gold medals each at the trials to pick the girls' squad for the Under 17 GCC Championship.

Shah took the 100m and 200m sprint double, and Budebs won the 400m and 800m.

The two came together on the victorious 4x100m relay team in the competition at the Dubai Police Officers Club.

The two girls and other medal winners will travel to Oman for the GCC Championship, scheduled for February 20 to 24, and Ahmed Al Kamali, the president of the Athletic Federation, is hoping for a rich harvest from the event.

"We will be taking about 30 girls to Oman and our target is to win five to six medals," Al Kamali said.

"We are also taking 10 mothers along to support and encourage the girls."

The UAE's best performers in Oman will later travel to Tunisia for the junior pan-Arab Championships and the most promising from among them will be picked for the Federation's specialised training programme, with an eye on future Olympics. "What I have seen today gives me a lot of hope for the future," Al Kamali said.

"I saw a couple of girls who are really promising and I believe we will see some of these girls at either the 2016 or 2020 Olympic Games.

Budebs, a Grade 12 pupil at Raia School in Dubai, has represented the UAE at competitions before, and she is also a part of the country's football team.

She has run for the past six years, and trains in Dubai and Abu Dhabi daily, giving equal attention to football and running.

"I started when I was in Grade 6," she said. "The schoolteacher picked me up and then we started training regularly. I enjoy the sport and I train every day.

"I love the 400m, 800m and pole vault, and I want to become the No 1 in these sports."

arizvi@thenational.ae