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
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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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.
Updated: August 22, 2018 07:53 PM