posted on 03/05/2012: 739 views
"I hope it is me, but even if someone else gets to go and is selected, it won't matter as this one is from us for our country!”
That's what Latifa Al Marri, one of the potential candidates to represent the UAE in the weightlifting arena at the London Olympics had to say after the Emirates women's team touched down in Dubai after claiming one of the six qualifying spots on offer at the Asian Championships in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
The 20-year-old's sentiments reflect the team spirit that has lifted a group of youngsters, who perhaps four years ago during the Beijing Games never even in their wildest dreams would have thought that the London Games would be their chance of representing their country at the greatest show on earth.
Out of the 10-woman team, only one will travel to the English capital, and even though that painful decision is yet to be made by Emirates Weightlifting Federation officials, each of the women in Al Marri's group is optimistic of her name being called out.
"It was a very tough qualifying event and we've made history me and my team and the coaches. We've done very well and earned our spot at the Games unlike previously where we were invited through wildcards, this time we will be performing on the basis of our merit and merit alone,” she said.
Tributes have poured in for the group that made history with Sheikh Sultan bin Mejren, the President of the Emirates Weightlifting Federation, revealing he was moved when the President of the International Weightlifting Federation Tamas Ajan saluted the performance of the Emirati women for "having come a long way in a short time”.
Bin Mejren said: "This is a great achievement for the future of the sport in the country because these girls have shown that our women can achieve a lot of they are given a chance. Some of the girls have been training for a few years but some have just started and to book a spot as a team is great for a country like ours which is young in this sport.
"I was told that the IWF President saluted our team after they won their place, that is a big statement for this team.”
Mohammad Al Kamali, the General Secretary of the UAE National Olympic Committee, said "This result shows the interest taken in women's sport by the Government of the UAE because Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum have been supporting sport constantly. At the announcement of the athletes a few months back the weightlifting federation had promised they would qualify for the Games and they have kept their promise.”
Former Olympian Najwan Zawawi, who represented Egypt, and is currently the coach of the UAE women's team, added: "This is a very proud moment for these girls, being an Olympian is a proud thing for anybody and though we are yet to name who will go for now it's time to enjoy the achievement of this young team. These girls have done well in a short span of time and there is definitely more to come from them.”
Al Marri and her team-mates Yasmin Abbas, Alanood Faraj, Khadija Mohammad, Abeer Faraj and Alia Al Balooshi were all welcomed by EWF and UAENOC officials on their arrival at Dubai Airport yesterday. – Sport 360°
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