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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Yousif Mirza 'in good shape' ahead of Asian Games cycle race

Emirati, who narrowly missed out on podium finishes in previous two editions, hopes he is 'third-time lucky' at Jakarta

UAE Team Emirates rider Yousif Mirza will be in action for his country in Jakarta on Thursday. Courtesy CSM
UAE Team Emirates rider Yousif Mirza will be in action for his country in Jakarta on Thursday. Courtesy CSM

The UAE’s best chance of winning a medal at the Asian Games may lie with Yousif Mirza as he prepares for the 150-kilometre cycle race on Thursday.

The Emirati, who narrowly missed out on podium finishes in previous editions - at Guangzhou in 2010, and at Incheon four years later - hopes he is "third-time lucky" at the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

What has changed since 2014, however, is the fact that Mirza has improved considerably since being drafted by the UAE Team Emirates last year. In fact, he is seen as one of the top medal contenders on Thursday.

Mirza, 29, arrived in Jakarta fresh from last week's Binckbank Tour in the Netherlands and Belgium, where he suffered a crash midway through the race and was fortunate not to get seriously injured.

“I’m going into the race in good shape,” he said on Wednesday. “The Binckbank Tour was a good prep ahead of Jakarta.

“I’m not only aiming for a medal for myself and for my country, but [also] looking forward for some good performances from my teammates. Obviously we have worked as a team and wish they, too, finish on the podium.”

Mirza and his teammates Ahmed Al Mansoori, Mohammed Al Mansoori and Saif Al Kaabi are among the 94 riders drawn from 18 countries.

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More from Amith Passela in Jakarta:

Omar Al Fadhli says winning Asian Games gold will be high point of career

Meet the Emirati teenagers looking to win jiu-jitsu gold at the Asian Games

UAE to meet Indonesia in last-16 stage of Asian Games football tournament

Faisal Al Ketbi keeping fingers crossed hard work in LA will pay off at Games

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Also on Thursday, the UAE hope for a strong showing from Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum and Khaled Al Kaabi in the men’s double trap in shooting.

Ghalia Al Blooshi faces Mongolia's Enkhtuya Altangerel, while Alya Al Ahmed takes on Asel Sharbekova of Kyrgyzstan in the round of 32 at the recurve women’s individual archery event.

Meanwhile in Wednesday's action, Shubbar Hassan proved no match for Chinese Taipei's Ho Chia Sin, going down in the men’s 63-kilogram taekwondo event. Hassan's dejection came shortly after the joy of beating Yemen's Ahmed Al Khulaqi 18-15 in the previous round.

There was also disappointment for rowers Hamad Al Matrooshi in the lightweight singles scull, and Ahmed Al Hammadi and Mubarak Al Yassi in the doubles scull, after they failed to qualify for the final rounds.

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