Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 November 2019

Mohammed Qaid, Noura Al Ketbi and Sara Al Senaani lead the UAE charge at the World Para Athletics Championships

Paralympic medalists looking for more glory, this time on home territory in Dubai

Sara Al Senaani with her bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Getty
Sara Al Senaani with her bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Getty

Emirati Paralympic medalists Mohammed Qaid, Noura Al Ketbi and Sara Al Senaani lead the host nation’s medal drive when Dubai hosts the World Para Athletics Championships in November.

Al Qaid won silver and bronze in the wheelchair at the London Paralympic 2012 Games and he followed it up with gold at Rio 2016.

Al Ketbi and Al Senaani created history by becoming the first Emirati females to bag a medal each at a Paralympic Games. They bagged a silver and a bronze in the Shot Putt F32 and F33, respectively, at Rio 2016.

“We have 18 para athletes entered in the World Championships and include three previous Paralympic medal winners Qaid, Noura and Sara,” said Majid Al Osaimi, the event director, at the launch ceremony at the Dubai Sports Council on Sunday.

“This is a world championship and it is difficult to get the qualification numbers but to have 18 athletes is a very good number. And what is even better is that half of them are females.”

Al Osaimi, who is also the president of Asia Paralympic Committee, said that the Fazza Championship, initiated by 11 years ago by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, has been key to the success.

“We are harvesting the fruits of the Fazza Championship, which is one of the main annual grand prix events for para athletes,” he said.

“We expect 8-10 of our athletes to qualify from the world championships and obviously looking forward to the next summer’s Games to have more of our athletes on the podium."

The world championships in Dubai has already drawn over 1,500 entries from 123 countries and Thani Juma Bel Ragad, chairman of the Local Organising Committee, expects two more nations to join when entries close on Tuesday.

“There is a flood of entries because 1,100 qualifying spots in 172 categories in the track and field events are up for grabs for the Tokyo Games,” said Bel Ragab.

“The United Nations comes as the main sponsor, another first in the event and Russia are returning for the first time since their ban on 2016.

The championships will be held in three venues – Dubai Club, Al Wasl and the Dubai Police Officers Club.

“We want to create an awareness of the para athletic program to our youth during the championships,” Be Ragad said.

“With that in mind, we have made extra seating arrangements for school children plus more than 4,000 overseas visitors like families, friends and fans of the para athletes.”

Updated: October 20, 2019 06:18 PM

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