x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE Paralympians arrive home to rousing welcome

The 15-strong team picked up a gold, silver and bronze medals at the games in London.

Mohammed Hammadi and Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani display their medals.
Mohammed Hammadi and Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani display their medals.

DUBAI//The UAE's Paralympians arrived back in the country this morning to a rapturous  welcome.

The 15-strong team picked up a gold, silver and bronze medals at the games in London and were greeted to flashing cameras and dozens of staff and visitors eager to take pictures with the sportsmen and women at Dubai International Airport.

"I'm really proud to have won the gold medal for the UAE because this is for everyone who lives here," said Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani, who won gold in the R6-50m air rifle prone SH1 category.

"I felt huge relief and pride at winning the medal because I trained so hard for the competition and it's good to get the reward for that hard work.

"It shows what you can achieve if you dedicate yourself to something."

He said the experience of being at the London games has given him confidence for the 2016 games in Rio.

For Mohammed Hammadi, the disappointment in not winning gold was tempered by the fact he took silver and bronze in the 200m T34 and 100m T34 wheelchair sprints, respectively.

"I was sad not to have won the gold but the competition was very, very tough," he said.

"I'm proud to have won these medals and also of the support we have received from the country's leaders and people in general.

"I really hope that the achievements of not just myself but of the whole team will inspire people with special needs to take up sport.

"I'm definitely aiming for gold at Rio in 2016."

London was the most successful Paralympics ever for the UAE.

Although Mohammed Al Mehairi, didn't claim a medal in either of his javelin or discuss competitions, he was amazed by the atmosphere in the Olympic stadium.

This was the fourth consecutive Paralympic Games he had taken part in.

"It was wonderful to be part of something like this," said Mr Al Mehairi, who won a bronze in the discuss at Athens in 2004.

"It was really inspiring to be a part of that."

The team and support staff were greeted at the airport by a delegation from the country's Olympic committee as well as officials from Dubai Sports Council.

The team were presented with flowers and took time out to pose for photographs with airport staff as well as other visitors.

nhanif@thenational.ae