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Futtais aims for podium finish as UAE’s quest for medals begins at Tokyo Olympics

Ace shooter Saif Bin Futtais will kick off the UAE medal hunt at the Olympic Games on Sunday, when he competes in the skeet competition at the Asaka Shooting Range.

The 47-year-old Futtais, who competed in the 2016 Games, is one of the country’s top medal hopes —as shooting and judo are the two disciplines where the UAE is expected to be in serious contention.

The men’s skeet competition will be held for two days with participants taking part in five rounds. 125 is the total target rated by 25 targets for each round. The event will end on Monday, after six shooters qualifying for the final phase as per of their accumulated results and accordingly the top three medals will be awarded.

Legendary Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hasher Al Maktoum won gold at the double-trap shooting event in the 2004 Athens Games and became the country’s first gold medallist since the nation’s first participation in Los Angeles 1984.

Minimum target is a medal, which is the aspiration of any athlete, who competes at the Olympic and Futtais’s aim is no different. Bagging medals and making the nation proud is on the top wish list of the ace Emirati shooter.

Futtais, who claimed gold at the 2015 World Cup, is occupying seventh spot in the world rankings. He has also clinched silver at New Delhi in 2021 and bronze at Acapulco in 2013.

Sheikh Ahmad had once tipped Futtais as top medal prospect of the country and said that the Dubai-born shooter has all the attributes to succeed on sport’s biggest stage.

“Going into the Olympics in 2004, I was among the favourites based solely on my ranking,” he said in an interview.

“The same applies to Saif as he has been at the top of the rankings over the past few years.

“Saif is right up there in the rankings and he has been showing all the signs that I showed on my way to being an Olympic champion.” Gearing up to bring medals for the country, Futtais has been practising hard at a shooting range situated in Tokyo after arriving in Japan last week.

Azza Bin Sulaiman, the National Olympic Committee Assistant Secretary General for Administrative Affairs, has paid a visit to the Sports Olympic Village, venue of the Tokyo Olympic Sports Tournament along with Ahmad Al Tayeb, the National Olympic Committee Director of Technical and Sports Affairs.

Azza hailed the country’s wise leadership for their support.

Azza urged the UAE athletes participating in the Games to give their best. “We are pleased with the leaders who dedicate their efforts in all fields aiming at the happiness of the peoples of UAE. It is, by all means, our responsibility to feel loyal towards them.

“We also appreciate the keen and continued support of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE National Olympic Committee, which reflects the concern of our wise leadership who stand side by side with the country’s sons.

“Olympic Games is the true benchmark measuring the country’s sports level. With high hopes we are looking forward to seeing UAE athletes competing alongside top names of the world.

“Undoubtedly, such competition gives our athletes a motivation to achieve more and bring medals for the country,” Azza added.

Tayeb said: “The UAE athletes have expressed their optimism to achieve the best positive results to make the country proud.

Meanwhile, UAE’s national swimming team coach Marwan Al Hattawi confirmed Yousef Al Matrooshi is in best shape to compete in the 100m freestyle event.

“Martrooshi is competent and has excellent skills which enable him to be deemed as a promising national project and we all should support him.” Matrooshi was the UAE flag-bearer at the opening ceremony in Tokyo on Friday.

The UAE swimmer has also been named as one of the two Emirati wildcard entrants who will represent the nation at this year’s FINA World Swimming Championships (25m). Matrooshi, 18, and Layla Al Khatib, 14, are the two Emirati athletes selected for raising the challenge to face elite international swimmers at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) which is scheduled to take place at Yas Island’s hugely impressive Etihad Arena from Dec.16-21.

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