UAE competitors who bring back gold medals from the Beijing Olympic Games will win a $272,000 bonus, it has been announced.
Ebrahim Abdul Malek, the general secretary of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and general secretary of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW), added that silver medal winners would be paid just over $200,000 while those winning bronze would get as a reward for their achievement while anyone who takes the third place bronze would get $136,000.
The UAE's only previous medallist was Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum who won gold in the double trap shooting competition in 2004. He is defending his title in Beijing.
The UAE team for the Beijing games, which start on August 8, represents the largest ever participation in an Olympic Games with eight contenders.
Arabian Business will be following the UAE Olympic hopefuls as they compete alongside some 10,000 athletes in 302 events in 28 sports. Here is this year's UAE 2008 Olympic team.
Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al-Maktoum – skeet shooting: This year will be Sheikh Saeed bin Rashid Al- Maktoum’s third Olympic Games having attended Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. 32-year-old Sheikh Saeed started competing in the men’s skeet in 1999 and won gold at the Asian Shooting Championships in 2003 and silver at the Doha Asian Games in 2006. He is also patron of the UAE’s National Skeet Shooting Team.
Sheikha Maitha Mohd Rashed Al Maktoum – taekwondo:Karate and taekwondo athlete Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid is also no stranger to winning, she won a silver medal at the Women’s Over 60kg karate event at the 2006 Asian Games and is the captain of the UAE national ladies team in martial sports. This year the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE prime minister and vice-president, and ruler of Dubai, will compete for victory in the 67kg taekwondo category. She will also hoist the UAE’s flag at the opening ceremony of the 2008 games.
Sheikha Latifa bint Ahmad bin Juma Al - show jumping:Sheikha Latifa bint Ahmad bin Juma Al Maktoum qualified for her first Olympic games in the individual show jumping event at the Seven Qatar International Show Jumping Championship in March 2007. The young royal clocked 47.72 seconds in the jump-off to book her ticket to Beijing. Shiekha Latifa has since based herself in France and competing in Belgium, Rotterdam and Italy. Catch Sheikha Latifa at the equestrian competitions which will run from August 9-21.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum – double trap: Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, is the UAE’s only gold Olympic medallist, following his victory in the double trap shooting event in 2004. Sheikh Ahmed is coming out of retirement to compete at this years Beijing games. The 45-year old is also the winner of the World Cup 2003 in Italy, World Elite Championship 2003 in Italy and World Cup winner in Cairo 2004.
Obaid Ahmed Aljesmi - swimming: Swimmer Obaid Ahmed Aljesmi will compete in the 100m freestyle swimming event. He was the gold medal winner of the 50m backstroke at the GCC Championships, Kuwait in 2006 and gold medal winner of the 100m medley at the GCC Championships, Kuwait 2007.
Omar Juma Bilal Alsalfa - 200m: The UAE’s short distance champion has spent the last two weeks training in Poland with his Bulgarian trainer, Vasko. The 19-year-old athlete, who is competing in 200m category, is determined to make it as far as the quarter finals to present his best of 20.94 seconds. Alsafa is no stranger to gold, last month he won the gold medal in the Asian Athletics Junior Championship in Jakarta. Alsafa’s impressive time of 21.04secs in the 200m for the gold also qualified him for the Olympics.
Saeed Rashid Omar Alqubaisi - judo:At just 18-years old Emirati Saeed Rashid Alqubaisi is the UAE’s youngest Olympic contender and the UAE’s first judoka to compete at the Olympics. A professional since he was 11, Alqubaisi will compete in the 73kg Judo category for men. “I feel proud and I will look to do my country proud. Like this I can be an example to many youngsters, that you can be an Olympian at 18,” says the GCC and Arab champion.
Adel Khalid Abdulghafar - sailing:UAE-born Abdulghafar only started sailing in 2001 but plans to come home with an Olympic gold medal at this year’s games as he competes in the Dinghy Event – laser class. The sailing enthusiast has been training full time since 2007 at the Emirates Sailing School in Abu Dhabi and has been on a strict diet of salad, vegetables and fruit. In 2003 Abdulghafar won the European Laser Championships and in 2007 won the Laser Class in the Arab Games. “It is my goal to come home with an Olympic gold medal from Qingdao in China,” he says confidently of his performance at this year’s games.