posted on 29/07/2012: 544 views
UAE judoka Humaid Al Derei commences his Olympics journey today as he takes on Egyptian Ahmed Awad in the -66kg action at the ExCel's North Arena 2.
The 21-year-old from Abu Dhabi is competing in his first Olympics and has been hampered by an eye illness that has resulted in a shorter than expected preparation period but Al Derei is proud of his progress in the sport, and is relieving himself from the pressure of high expectation.
"Qualifying to the Games in itself is massive for me. That's already an achievement. I don't want to talk about any result I'm expecting,” says Al Derei.
"Unfortunately, I've been training seriously for only the past two months now, I would love to say that I had more time. But I went to an intensive training camp in Belarus, where 32 countries participated and I'm ready to do my best.”
He has a tough task against his 25-year-old opponent Awad, who is ranked No34 in the world, 110 places higher than the 144th-ranked Al Derei but the Emirati insists he will enjoy his Olympic experience no matter what.
"I will do everything to represent my country the best way possible,” he says, also adding that when his competition is over, he is looking forward to meeting some of the world's biggest sports stars present at the Village.
"One of the nice advantages of the Olympics is that you get the chance to meet the world's best athletes after you're done with your competition.
"When I was in Germany for the Grand Prix, some young kids asked me for my autograph, so hopefully in London my good performances will also warrant people to come and ask for my autograph.
"I'm a big fan of tennis and football and it would be great to meet any of the heroes of those sports, because they are role models in terms of what they've managed to achieve.
I'm looking forward to hanging out with our football team too.” Al Derei's bout is scheduled at 1.19pm UAE time. – Sport 360°
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