x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Paralympics: Chance for Emirati shooter 'to get on with life'

Confined to a wheelchair after a car crash in 2001, Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani wants to continue doing what he loves most, writes Amith Passela.

After narrowly missing out on the final eight at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, the Emirati shooter Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani, is aiming for the medal round at the London Games.

Al Aryani, 42, is a member of the Al Ain Club for the Disabled and will be among the first from the UAE's 15-member squad to go into action tomorrow, when he competes in the men's SH1 10m air rifle event.

Obaid Al Dahmani joins him in the same event while Issa Saif Al Jawhari participates in the discus throw category F57/58. Mohammed Vahdani goes on the men's 5,000m T54 heats.

"Everyone in this competition has come well prepared and it will be left to those with a bit of good fortune to reach the medal round. I wish I will be among them with my teammate Obaid," Al Aryani said.

"In Beijing, they wanted eight to go into the final round and I was ranked ninth, although we were all on same points. I hope I will be luckier this time. I have also worked very hard.

"It will be good if I can return with a medal because the UAE federation has provided everything and more to achieve good results. It is not only me but this is the objective of every team member."

A decade ago, Al Aryani was a member of the UAE team which included Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher, the UAE's first Olympic gold medal winner when he won the double trap in the 2004 Athens Games.

"I was competing as an able-bodied shooter in 2000 and one year later I was badly hurt in a car crash and left me confined to a wheelchair," Al Aryani said.

"It is very painful to think of the past. I must get on with my life and this is another opportunity. I am using my experience and I thank God that I am still able to do what I enjoy most."

Al Aryani has had success since he returned to competition after the accident that left him paralysed below the waist.

He won a gold medal in Games Alvesbak in Malaysia in 2006, and has since amassed seven more golds and three silvers in Chinese Taipei, the United States, Australia, South Korea and the UAE.

Al Dahmani, his UAE and Al Ain Club teammate, is competing for the first time at this level and looking forward to the experience.

"I will do my best to get a good ranking," he said. "I have been participating in competition for the last six years but the first time at the international level. It is a real honour to represent the country at the Paralympics."

The Emirati athletes were left mesmerised by the spectacular opening ceremony and Al Dahmani said being part of it had boosted their morale ahead of the competition.

"I have never experienced such a spectacular show and to be part of it was an awesome experience. It has lifted our spirits and I think now everyone in the team are looking ahead for the contests," he said.

The UAE travelled with their biggest contingent to London, comprising of 11 male and four female athletes.

apassela@thenational.ae

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