What do the Paralympic Games mean to you?
Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani (shooting, Al Ain Club for the Disabled): ‘The Games mean everything, but this is not the last – it comes around every four years. I went to Beijing in 2008. They needed eight [competitors] for the final and I was number nine. But we all had the same scores – [there were] too many people for the final. If you want to win a medal, you have to give your best. In the world ranking I am second, but in the Olympics there are many factors. No one expects anything. Everybody comes to get a medal.’
How do you hope to perform?
Ahmed Khamis Al Balooshi (powerlifting, Abu Dhabi Club for the Disabled): ‘First, I’m happy to be able to represent my country. I’m very, very proud. I only started power lifting three years ago and this will be my first time going to London. If I come in the top five, or if I set a new personal record, that will be very, very good for me. I don’t expect anything more.’
Thuraya Hamad AlZaabi (javelin and shot put, Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped, Sharjah): ‘I went to Beijing [in 2008] but I injured my hand – this time I hope to be in a better mindset. This time I want a medal for my country. It’s important to go to London and put our culture out there – it’s the best part in my heart. I hope to do the best that’s in my power and get the best medals.’
How much training do you need to do?
Ahmed: ‘I train for four hours every day, in the morning and at night; sometimes hard, sometimes easy. Every day I work in the police [station] for eight hours a day; after that, training.’
Does the Olympics help to unite the UAE?
Thuraya: ‘I live in Dubai, but in the Olympics we are one country – the UAE. I’m sure we will get a medal to show the next generation.’
What inspires you to compete?
Obaid Tuaib Al Dahmani (shooting, Al Ain Club for the Disabled): ‘I will do my best to get a good ranking. I’ve been training for six years, although I first picked up a gun when I was ten years old. My father was a shooter. My mother and father have passed away, but they would be very, very proud. When I was ten I though it was a hobby – I never thought I would participate internationally. It’s a real honour to represent the UAE.’
Abdulla: ‘From my side, if I win a medal, this is history for me. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum won the UAE’s first ever gold medal in shooting [in Athens in 2004]. I’m following him. I represented the UAE as an able-bodled shooter in 2000; a year later I was in a car crash. This is another chance for me.’