x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE Paralympian hopes his experience will pay off in gold

Mohammed Khamis Khalaf aims to reach back through the years as he tries to reach the men's powerlifting medal round at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Mohammed Vahdani, foreground, will be among the UAE athletes in action today at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Mohammed Vahdani, foreground, will be among the UAE athletes in action today at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Mohammed Khamis Khalafwill be aiming to roll back the years on Tuesday as he tries to reach the men's powerlifting medal round at the London Paralympics.

Khalaf won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and followed it up with a silver at the Beijing Games four years later.

And the 43 year old says he has not lost any of his ability or hunger to add to his medal tally.

"I have continued with my training schedules and have regularly participated at the highest levels to keep myself in good shape," he said. "I am also realistic to the fact the bar has been raised at every Paralympic Games. So it's not going to be easy as everyone here has come well prepared to reach the medal rounds."

Khalaf is participating in his fourth Paralympics after making his debut in the 2000 Sydney Games.

"It has been a great experience," he said. "I am much older than when I first took part in the Paralympics but my enthusiasm and the hunger to win remains the same as I did more than 12 years ago.

"Sometimes the experience helps because you know exactly what to expect and what needs to be done during the competition.

"I don't feel the pressure when it's my turn and I don't lose sleep if I am not successful.

"All I want to do is to go out there and give my best."

Khalaf's first major victory in his discipline was in 1999 when he won the New Zealand and Australian Open, and a bronze in the European Open in Hungary in the same year.

He has won 14 gold medals, four silver and two bronze since then in competitions across Europe and Asia.

Khalaf got into powerlifting after watching members of the Dubai Special Sports Club taking part in events in the capital while he was at college in Abu Dhabi.

When his uncle moved to Dubai in 1991 Khalaf decided to join him and began training at the club.

Joining Khalaf in the medal hunt for the UAE are the shooters Abdullah Al Aryani and Obaid Al Dahmani, both competing in the mixed R3 10m air rifle prone-SH1.

The others in action on the track and field are Mohammed Hammadi in the men's T34 200 metres, Mohammed Vahdani in the T54 1,500m and Siham Al Rasheedy in the women's discus F57/58.

Al Aryani missed out on the medal round in his previous two events, finishing seventh R1-10m air rifle and fifth in the mixed R3-10m air rifle prone, but hopes he can break his duck in the next two disciplines.

"I am pretty satisfied with the results so far but coming close is not good enough for the team," he said.

apassela@thenational.ae

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