Sheikha Maitha set for Olympic honour

Dubai ruler's daughter will become first Gulf woman to carry flag at Games opening ceremony.
Sheikha Maitha set for Olympic honour
By Andy Sambidge and Claire Ferris-Lay
Thu 07 Aug 2008 06:27 AM

Sheikha Maitha bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, part of the UAE's ruling royal family, will make history on Friday when she becomes the first Gulf woman to carry a flag at an Olympics opening ceremony.

The 28-year-old, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the UAE prime minister, will take part in the 67kg category of the taekwondo competition.

She was a silver medallist at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and was named as the Arab athlete of the year in 2007.

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 she will compete for victory in the 67kg taekwondo category.

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.

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