x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Shooter's sights on other targets at Paralympics

Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani, one of the UAE's main medal hopes at the London Paralympic Games, could only finish seventh in the men's R1-10m air rifle competition.

Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani, one of the UAE's main medal hopes at these London Paralympic Games, could only finish seventh in the men's R1-10m air rifle competition yesterday.

It was a disappointing day for the Emirati shooters as fellow marksman Obaid Al Dahmani failed to progress from the qualifying round in the same event earlier in the day.

Dong Chao of China won gold with Jonas Jakobsson of Sweden and Josef Neumaier of Germany taking the silver and bronze respectively.

However, Al Aryani, refused to be down despite finishing outside the medals, and said he will now focus on challenging for honours in the mixed R3-10m rifle today.

"I think I did pretty well to reach the final eight and can take a lot of positives from this opening contest to the next one," Al Aryani, who will also compete in the mixed R6-50m rifle on Tuesday and the mixed R7-50m rifle 3 positions on the following day alongside Al Dahmani, said.

"There are three more events for me to compete in but I am taking one of them at a time. So my focus is now on the next competition and I am very hopeful to get to the medal round."

Al Aryani has won eight gold and three silver medals in various competitions since he returned to compete as a disabled athlete in 2006. He was a member of the UAE team until he was confined to a wheelchair after a car crash in 2001.

Mohammed Fadhel Al Hameli, head of the UAE Paralympic Games Committee, emphasised that winning medals was not the 15-strong UAE team's sole objective in London.

"We have sent the biggest contingent ever to London and the whole idea is to provide as many disabled athletes with the opportunity to participate," he said.

"We have provided them with everything they require to be competitive and I believe they have undergone hard work and prepared well. And if they are good enough at this level to win, so be it. If they don't reach the medal rounds, it is not an issue."

Arguably the country's best hope of returning home with a medal on the men's side rest with Mohammed Khamis Khalaf, the powerlifter who is in action in the men's 90kg contest on Tuesday.

Khalaf, 43, won gold in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens and took silver at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Emirati women Sakina Al Balooshi and Mariam Matroushi make their debuts in the Paralympics today when they compete in the club throw F31/32/51 and the javelin throw F46 respectively.

Al Balooshi has considerable international experience having won four golds, five silvers and two bronze in Europe and when the UAE hosted the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games in Sharjah earlier this year.

Matroushi won two events in the lead-up to the London Paralympics. She won the Fazza International in Dubai and the Czech Open.

apassela@thenational.ae

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