x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

It is never too late to come back from retirement for Al Jasmi

The 32 year old will return and also intends to carry on until the next Olympics.

DUBAI // Obaid Al Jasmi has shelved plans to retire from swimming and revived his ambition to compete at the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The country's most successful swimmer was overlooked for London 2012 as the UAE's wild-card invitation was handed to Mubarak Salem, his national team colleague, instead.

The decision, as well as an acrimonious public fall-out between Al Jasmi and a senior UAE swimming federation official, prompted the 31-year-old policeman to state he planned to quit the sport.

However, he will return to the pool representing the national team in this morning's 100m butterfly heats at the Asian Swimming Championships in Dubai. He says he also intends to carry on until the next Olympics - by which time he will be 35 - when he hopes to guarantee his selection by qualifying automatically.

"The Olympics was a disappointment and I said after that I would stop swimming," said Al Jasmi, who competed in Athens in 2004 and Beijing 2008.

"Then I thought to myself, it is just one competition. A big competition, yes, by why not try to continue swimming until the next Olympic Games?

"For a swimmer, my age is big, but I have always felt that age is just a number for me. I can swim until 2016, so long as nothing wrong happens."

Al Jasmi played down his own chances of success at this week's competition, citing a fitful build up to the event, but has tipped his young colleagues to do well.

Jay Benner, the UAE coach, believes the UAE's best chances lie with Salem's 50m breaststroke heat this morning, and cautioned against expecting too much from the home swimmers.

"We have a long way to go and it is about taking small steps forward and trying to progress," Benner said.

pradley@thenational.ae

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