UAE’s Al Hammadi stuns world champion to win Paralympics gold
This is UAE’s second gold medal of the event after powerlifter Mohammed Khamis Khalaf won gold in the men’s 88kg category on Tuesday.
The UAE’s Mohamed Al Hammadi came up with a brilliance performance to upset world champion Walid Ktila for the gold medal in the 800mT34 men’s wheelchair race at the Rio Olympics on Wednesday night. This is UAE’s second gold medal of the event after powerlifter Mohammed Khamis Khalaf won gold in the men’s 88kg category on Tuesday.
Shooter Abdulla Sultan Alryani has won three silver medals at the Rio event. With Mohamed Al Hammadi’s gold, the UAE has now won five medals (two gold, and three silver) at the Rio Games. On Wednesday at the Olympic Stadium in Rio, Al Hammadi was trailing at one stage but he still managed to out-push the world champion in a memorable race. At the 2015 and 2013 world championships, Al Hammadi had finished second behind Tunisia’s Walid Ktila. But on Wednesday night Alhammadi clocked 1:40.24 to leave Ktila in second place.
“People said at the beginning that I probably won’t win,” said Al Hammadi after the race.
“I came from behind and I won. They kept saying ‘Mohamed is not training, not doing this, not doing that,’ and I won the gold medal. But Walid was nice to me and congratulated me.”
“Mohamed is a friend and is from an Arab country so I’m happy for him as well,” Ktila said. “I wanted to get the gold, but I’m happy with silver as long as it was Mohamed that got it!”
Australia’s Rheed McCracken took the bronze medal.
47-year-old Mohammed Khamis Khalaf was the first to win gold for UAE.
The five-time Paralympian brushed aside the field to win gold in superb fashion in the men's 88kg category of the men's powerlifting competition at the Rio Paralympics on Tuesday.
Going into the final rounds after gathering steam slowly but steadily, the 2004 Paralympics gold medallist, literally blew away the rest of the field.
Brazilian home favourite Evanio da Solva totalled 210kg in his attempts to clinch silver while Mongolia's Adnoompiljee Enkhbayar who was relegated to the bronze berth after the countback and weight difference clauses were applied.
Khalaf told Khaleej Times a week ago that his is a dual role for the UAE. "I have experience which I can readily pass on to the next generation of the participants in Rio especially taking the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics into consideration.
"In 2012 in London I was disappointed as I was supposed to come home with a medal. Four years have gone by and I have trained harder and I have to at least promise this time that I will with God's help return to the UAE with a medal."
The UAE are fielding a three-member powerlifting team for the Rio Para Games. Young Ahmed Khamis Albaloushi will challenge the WFJ2 field while woman lifter Haifa Naqbi will be making her Paralympic debut.
Albaloushi has recovered well after the serious injury he suffered during the London 2012 Paralympics.
The UAE have so far won one gold and two silvers (Abdulla Sultan Alryani's in men's rifle shooting) in the Games which ends on September 18.
Khalaf's first major international achievement came in 1999 when he won the New Zealand and Australian Open, and a bronze in the European Open in Hungary in the same year.
Khalaf was initiated into the sport after seeing athletes train at the Dubai Club for the Physically Disabled in Qusais, and he has a trophy showcase containing the 14 gold medals, four silvers and two bronzes he has won since 1999 in competitions across Europe and Asia. His uncle motivated him further with coaching and the right kind of tips for him to go far in the discipline.
With 528 gold medals to be handed out in just 11 days of competition, the Rio Paralympics is a packed programme of action, thrills and para sports which today have reached high performance levels at an astonishing rate.
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