More Olympic predictions from sports coaches. Plus your guide to where you can practice your sporting skills here in Dubai.
We continue our roundup of Olympic predictions from Dubai coaches and ways you can take part in Olympic sports here.
It may cost an excruciating Dhs20,000 a year to be a member (and require a recommendation letter), but the India Club (www.indiaclubdubai.com) have some of the only indoor badminton facilities in Dubai. Failing that, Karama park (outside LuLu) has space to bash around a shuttlecock and you can often find people in the park with a net who are up for a game. Look out for China’s badminton love couple Lin Dan and Xie Xingfang in this year’s Olympics, who both top the men’s and women’s rankings.
There’s a good chance that those fighting for top position on the medal table at this year’s Olympics will be Japan and the USA. Look out as well for Cuba, with an Olympic team that can hold their own on the field. Believe it or not, baseball has made its way to these shores in the form of the Dubai Little League, for those aged between five and 17. Try-outs are in October and the league is well organised, with tiers for different age groups and a range of teams. See www.eteamz.com/dubailittleleague for details.
‘It should be a Brazil vs Brazil final for the gold in the men’s this year,’ reckons Marlon of the EK Volleyball Club (EKVC). ‘Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rigo have more experience than Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz Lione, so I think they’ll take it. With the Women’s competition I think we’ll see a Cuba-Italy final, I’d bank on Italy for that one.’ The EKVC will be organising plenty of tournaments and events in the next 12 months. If you fancy hurling yourself around the beach, the club meets weekly at Jumeirah Beach Park. ‘We have an upcoming event during Ramadan’, Marlon explains, ‘and in October, we’re planning a tournament weekend and party in Fujairah.’ See www.ekvolleyballclub.com for details of how to get in on a game.
‘Boxing and martial arts are becoming hugely popular here in Dubai,’ explains Abdul Salha, general manager of Colosseum Health and Fitness Club. ‘Both women and men are getting into it as it’s great for stress relief, so our classes are packing out.’ Feeling brave? He’s offering a trial class for free, after which a 12 session course is Dhs400. And who’s set to punch in the Olympic title? It’s difficult to generalise, but watch out for Cuba, which is always a strong nation. Thailand, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also have good teams. Call Colosseum on 04 337 2755.
‘It’s all about release of players,’ says Dean O’Grady, local league administrator. ‘Top English and German clubs may well be resistant to release players to travel all that way so close to the start of the season. I’d say teams like China and South Korea will shine because it’s local, and the Chinese will be more familiar with the air quality in Beijing than other teams.’ Football training resumes in September at the new Emirates Sevens ground. Call Dean for details on 050 396 5135
‘I personally think the USA will lead the way’ explains Seth Chappels, Swimming academies manager at Dubai Sports City. ‘China are also looking strong. It’s their home games and I think they’ll do well. But with that said, Stephanie Rice of Australia has made some very strong performances so far.’ When the Sports City facility opens officially in January 2009, an Olympic-sized 50m pool will be among the features along with accredited coaching and a specialised video analysis system that allows coaches to monitor and track individual strokes. Sounds suitably hi-tech. See www.dubaisportscity.ae for more info.
‘I think Nadal just might sneak it,’ says Ali Hasan, owner of Excel Sports Services. ‘He’s really on a roll right now – although I do worry about the toll on his body of the extremely physical game he plays. Federer tends to be much more consistent, generally. But I still think Nadal is the man of the moment.’ Excel (www.excelsportsuae.com) offer tuition in a range of pursuits at venues around the city. Private tennis lessons cost Dhs160 for 45 minutes; group lessons will set you back a mere Dhs50. Call 050 7485631 for details.