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Cuba keen to make Dubai their main centre for overseas sports training camps

Cuba is looking to develop and strengthen their sports relationship with Dubai following a two-week camp of their national Paralympic team that left the country’s sports bosses in awe of the ‘incredible’ sports facilities in Dubai.

A 39-member Cuban Paralympic team is currently in Dubai, having arrived here on Aug.2 to prepare for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which are taking place from Aug.24 to Sept.5 in the Japanese capital.

The team, consisting of athletes who will take part in track and field, table tennis, swimming, powerlifting, judo and cycling competitions in Tokyo, trained at Dubai Club for People of Determination, Hamdan Sports Complex and the Nad Al Sheba cycling track, and will start leaving for the Paralympic Games in batches later this week.

The Cubans were impressed with the exceptional sports facilities in Dubai and the warmth and hospitality of the people, and a delegation – headed by Raul Fornes Valenciano, First Vice Minister of Sports in Cuba, and Alberto Juantorena, President of the National Paralympic Committee of Cuba – visited Dubai Sports Council on Sunday to thank the Council for all their support.

Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, received the delegation in the presence of Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of the Council, Majid Al Usaimi, President of Asian Paralympic Committee, and Mohammed Abdul Karim, Vice Chairman of Dubai Club for People of Determination.

Hareb also gave the delegation a tour of the Council’s different departments and presented them with a copy of  ‘My Story’ – the anecdotal memoir of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“I am honoured to receive this book and really looking forward to reading it, especially as this is the 50th year of the country’s foundation,” said Valenciano, as he thanked Dubai Sports Council for their “strong” support for the Cuban Paralympic team.

“From my experience in this last stage of our team’s preparations for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, it is going to be a very useful experience for us and I believe, when our team returns home from Tokyo, we will have to thank Dubai for our results at the Tokyo Paralympic Games,” he added.

“In the future, we hope we can keep this exchange going – between our experience on the human and technical side, and Dubai’s excellent facilities.

“One of our targets is to make Dubai one of our main destinations for training camps for our teams. We have started with our Paralympic team, but in the future we can bring many different teams, including our Olympic teams.

“So hopefully, this is the start of a long and fruitful partnership. We have benefitted from your wonderful facilities, and we would like to share our experience on the human side for the benefit of sports in Dubai and the UAE.”

Valenciano also described Dubai as a model city that should be an inspiration for the world.

“Dubai is incredible, not just in terms of sports facilities, which are excellent, but also in terms of the buildings and amazing architecture you see around, as well as the incredible infrastructure for residents and tourists,” he said. “This city is an example for the world – an example of what the world can achieve if everyone works together to build something good.”

Juantorena, who is a track and field legend and the only athlete to win the 400m and 800m double in the same Olympic Games when he cruised to victory in the 1976 Montreal Games, echoed Valenciano’s sentiments.

“We are very happy to be here in Dubai,” said the 70-year-old. “You have some amazing facilities here and we thank Dubai and Dubai Sports Council for supporting our preparations for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“We chose Dubai because the facilities are fantastic, the people are fantastic and the support from Dubai Sports Council was really strong. Also, the people here have a good heart, great dedication and they care. They are very human people.

“The camp was fantastic, and I believe the relationship between Dubai and Cuba must increase and grow in the future. This is my hope. Deep in my heart I feel that we can do many things together for both countries in the future. We can work together to develop not just the Paralympic movement in our countries, but sports in general.”

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