Yousuf Al Matrooshi, holding UAE Flag, leads the country's contingent at Tokyo Olympics during its opening ceremony in Tokyo on Friday. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Participating in the Olympics is a passionate dream of any athlete and Friday, July 23, 2021 will always be etched in the memory of promising UAE swimmer Yousuf Al Matrooshi as he had the honour of leading the country’s delegation at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.
Matrooshi, who will be competing in the 100-metre freestyle event on his Olympic debut, was the UAE flag-bearer at the opening ceremony in Tokyo.
Matrooshi expressed delight after becoming the flag-bearer.
“It is an unforgettable moment of my life. I am feeling really honoured after raising the UAE flag at the opening ceremony of the tournament."
“It is a prestigious event that is followed by millions all over the world. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that every athlete passionately waits for,” he added.
Matrooshi also appreciated National Olympic Committee President Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum for granting him this great honour.
“The UAE flag is a symbol of glory and to hold it in front of the world delegates attending the ceremony is a real pride.”
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.
“Competing at the Olympics and the Worlds are the dreams of any athlete and I feel I am blessed to participate at both these events,” said Matrooshi.
The six-member UAE squad which is in Japan consists of Matrooshi, track athletes Hassan Al Noobi and Fatima Al Hosani, Judokas Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenco and shooter Saif Bin Futtais.
This is the smallest contingent the UAE has sent since their first Games participation at Los Angeles in 1984.
Since the nation’s first Games participation at Los Angeles 1984, the UAE has won two Olympic medals.
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hasher Al Maktoum grabbed a historic gold in double trap for the UAE at Athens 2004 and Sergio Toma became the second medallist for the country when he won bronze in the men's 81 kg category of the competition at the Rio 2016.
Futtais will be in action on Sunday when he competes in the skeet shooting competition.
The opening ceremony was also attended by Shehab Ahamed Al Faheem, the Ambassador of UAE to Japan and Engineer Aza Bint Suleyman, the Assistant Secretary General for the Administrative and Financial Affairs of the UAE National Olympic Committee.
Faheem said: “The UAE has spent all affordable efforts to continually support its sons in all fields. Our wise leadership always enhances all the efforts and mobilises all resources for the bright future of our country.
“Witnessing the UAE flag flying during the opening ceremony of the largest sports event inspires us with glory, honour, optimism and the challenge to achieve more in all the sports competitions. ”
More than 11,000 athletes from 207 nations have arrived to compete in the event for which a bio-secure bubble has been set-up to try to keep the action flowing in the Japanese capital during the next two weeks.
"On this glorious national occasion, all our institutions, ministries, bodies and schools are invited to raise the flag on the UAE Flag Day at 11:00am," tweets Sheikh Mohammed.
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