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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Qubaisi stalks success script

At 17, Qubaisi is looking forward to a long and successful future but the judo player is still thinking big at Beijing Olympics.
The judo athlete Saeed al Qubaisi practises with Sidi Youssef Elalami in Abu Dhabi. Qubaisi will represent the UAE for the first time at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The judo athlete Saeed al Qubaisi practises with Sidi Youssef Elalami in Abu Dhabi. Qubaisi will represent the UAE for the first time at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

At 17, Qubaisi is looking forward to a long and successful future but the judo player is still thinking big at Beijing Olympics, discovers Ahmed Rizvi There is something Schwarzenegger-esque about Saeed al Qubaisi. Possibly it is the way he walks, or smiles even. Perhaps it is his thick, muscular neck, broad shoulders and strapping frame. Or maybe it is the way he talks, turning his head around, looking you straight in the eye and saying very little.

Eloquence is certainly not a part of Qubaisi's arsenal - but put him on a mat and he is a man transformed. He turns into a "Predator" and his actions speak louder than words. Judokas from the Gulf and Arab world got a taste of his prowess as he won the 73kg gold at the two regional championships last year. And now it is the turn of the world to face the force as Qubaisi heads off to Beijing to take part in the Olympics.

"Of course, I hope to win the gold medal in Beijing as well," says the Qubaisi, 17, from Abu Dhabi, without batting an eyelid. "It is my dream." This dream took roots for Quba-isi very early in his life. He was just 11 when he took to the sport and now after years of toil while his friends were visiting the malls and cinema halls, the teenager feels ready for the big time. "I have been training hard for this," declares Qubaisi, who has been having daily two sessions of two hours each as he gets ready for Beijing.

He has also been training with the Tunisian national team at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club. "I have been to Belarus and Tunisia for camps this year, and I feel I am ready for the Olympics." Sergei, the head coach of the UAE Wrestling and Judo Federation, shares the positive sentiments of his confident ward. "He is confident and ready for the Games," says Saveliev, 53, from Belarus. "He is feeling good and not under any pressure.

"He is in high spirits and has a big heart. He took part in the 2007 World Championship, so he has a bit of experience of the major events. "It was his first time in the senior group and unfortunately he met the world champion [Daniel Fernandes] from France in the first round. "He has worked very hard in training and he has been very keen. Technically he is up there with the best. So, we are hoping for a good result.

"We are not thinking about any medals because he is still very young, but I am confident he will do very well. In sport, anything can happen. So we are keeping our fingers crossed. "But he is definitely a great prospect for the future. It will not be long before he starts winning on the international stage." Ibrahim Abdul Malik, the general secretary of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and general secretary of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW), is also not thinking about medals from Qubaisi at this moment.

"Saeed is a good prospect, but we don't want to put them under any pressure," says Malik. "He is a young boy and still has a lot of hard work ahead. We are preparing him for the next Olympics. "We have to be very honest with ourselves. Judo is a new sport for us and thanks to God, Saeed has qualified for the Olympic Games. That itself is a very satisfactory achievement for us. "There are countries who have the experience of 20 or 30 years in judo. We cannot compare ourselves to them, when we just have a couple of years. These countries are very advanced in judo.

"It is not fair to compare our judoka with them. Saeed is just a starter. We understand the difference in standards of the game around the world. "I am quite sure and confident that he will do his best. But I believe that if we go to the second round, it will be a good result for us. I will be happy for him." Qubaisi, though, is looking far beyond the second round. "I have trained and fought with the best judokas from around the world - from Japan to Belarus," says the Al Ain football club fan, who is a student of computer engineering. "I know I can beat them on my day.

"I am not going to the Olympics just to participate. I am going to there to win a medal - there is no point in going otherwise. "I want to win a medal for my country and make my family, our rulers and our nation proud." @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae