x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Medal bid starts in earnest

The UAE National Olympic Committee (NOC) say they hope to eclipse their 2006 medal tally when they take part in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China next year.

DUBAI // The UAE National Olympic Committee (NOC) say they hope to eclipse their 2006 medal tally when they take part in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China next year. Members of the NOC met delegates from the Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (GAGOC) yesterday as the Games boat, Cocachin, named after a fabled Chinese princess, docked at Port Rashid on an Asia-wide, 19-month publicity trip.

Emirati athletes took 10 medals at the 2006 Doha Games, including three gold, four silver and three bronze and the National Olympic Committee plans to increase the haul. The most memorable medal went to bodybuilder, Mohammed Salem Abdullah Zahmi, when he won the UAE's first Asian Games gold. "It is too early to start talking about how many medals the UAE will win," said Ahmed Mohammed Kamali, a member of the NOC Board of Directors and President, UAE Athletics Federation.

"But we are expecting good performances from our strong sports, including bowling, shooting, Tae Kwan Do and equestrianism, and I know that the bodybuilding association is very active and will work hard to defend the title." Athletes from 45 countries are expected to compete in a record 42 events, including new additions such as cricket, dance, dragon-boat racing and roller-skating. Seventy venues will accommodate the sports which will be contested by 20,000 athletes.

This will be the second Asian Games to be hosted by China which also staged the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Competitors of the calibre of Chinese hurdle star Liu Xiang and India's tennis ace Sania Mirza took part in the 2006 Asian Games. @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae