The Road to Rio!

Have you ever envisioned what it would be like to represent your nation at the “Rings of Glory”? When we got the wonderful opportunity to meet Mr Nasser Belshalat, an official at the National Olympic committee in Dubai, we gained valuable insight as to why the Government established a distinctive committee to handle sporting activities in Dubai.
We learned that the long term goal of the government is to identify potential athletes at a young age and to hone their skills so that they can represent the country as world class professionals. Recruitment of potential Olympians began at schools and universities where events such as ‘School Olympics’ help identify raw talent.
As the government identifies prospective representatives, it facilitates and sponsors their training at prestigious private clubs. Once these athletes develop into the professionals they are expected to be, the government further nurtures them so that they can represent the nation at various international events.
Success at the Olympics motivates the government to make further investment in sports for the country as it is synonymous with the nation’s pride and prestige. As a result, this year at the Rio Olympics 2016, the UAE has seen its largest ever contingent of athletes at the games. In fact, for the first time in UAE history, an 18-year-old girl has been selected to swim at the Olympics.
Over the years, the UAE has gradually increased the number of events they are participating in and the contingent at Rio this year, is participating in a multitude of events including Athletics, Cycling, Shooting, Swimming, Weightlifting and the country’s prime forte, Judo.
After speaking with a member of the marketing department at the National Olympic Committee, we were introduced to the life of a UAE athlete. In the words of Mr. Belshalat, “Sports is their everything”. As young and aspiring athletes, it was heartening to have light shed on the UAE’s futuristic vision and the willingness of the government to support such endeavours. As a testament to its reputation, which is being known for its melting pot of cultures and nationalities, the UAE has sent a team of athletes born across the globe but united by common love for the nation.

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