The UAE’s Paralympians

Meet four Paralympians representing the UAE this year

Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani
Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani
Ahmed Khamis Al Balooshi
Ahmed Khamis Al Balooshi
Obaid Tuaib Al Dahmani
Obaid Tuaib Al Dahmani
Thuraya Hamad AlZaabi
Thuraya Hamad AlZaabi

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.’

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