Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, felicitates Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani during an MBR Creative Sports Award ceremony for winning the gold in London in 2012. File
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, a Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative, has congratulated the UAE contingent, who will return with three medals – a gold, a silver and a bronze – from the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani, 51, put UAE on the Tokyo Paralympic Games’ list of gold-medal winners when he took top spot in the men’s 50m SH1 rifle event on Friday.
A two-time world champion, Aryani had also won gold in London in 2012, and his gold medal in Tokyo came after Mohamed Al Hammadi had won bronze in the men’s 100m T34.
Hammadi later added the men’s 800m T34 silver to his and UAE’s medal tally on Saturday.
Aryani had also won three silver medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and with the gold on Friday, his tally of Paralympic medals has risen to five.
“After our able-bodied athletes returned empty-handed from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the onus was on us to perform and shine at the Paralympic Games. This medal is for our leadership and the UAE community,” said Aryani.
The seasoned star was a member of his country’s able-bodied shooting team in 2000, before a car crash in 2001 left him paralysed below the waist.
Now he believes his gold medal will bring hope to his country and the countrymen after finishing with 453.6 points, 0-9 points ahead of Rio 2016 champion Laslo Suranji (452.9) and Korean Youngjip Shim (442.2).
“This surely was the toughest game I have ever played in my life. This is one of the biggest things that has happened to me.
“And this time I’m even more happy than ever after the challenges I’ve been through in the last four years in my physical and technical aspect. I wasn’t sure if I could sustain the score, I made in my previous Paralympics but I made it. I am very satisfied and proud of myself.”
Aryani went a step further than his Rio 2016 runner-up while Suranji had to settle for the silver. He earned a pat on the back from UAE Paralympic Committee vice president Majid Rashed.
“It is a big day in UAE Paralympic history. This is the first gold for the nation in the Tokyo 2020 Games. We are very happy that Aryani could show yet again that age is just a number and that he is the best in the business as he won the gold after his London 2012 title,” Rashed said.
“We hope that this gold will inspire many youngsters to take up Para sports not just in the UAE but in entire West Asian region, and in way develop the movement.
“We congratulate Abdulla (Aryani), his coaches, family and everyone in the Federation for their support in his journey.”
The Emirati now turns his attention to Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games and Al Ain 2022 World Shooting Para Sport Championship.
“But all my focus will be on Paris 2024 Paralympic Games,” said the beaming Aryani.
Hammadi, who had carried the UAE flag at the Tokyo Paralympic Games opening ceremony, also owns five now having won a silver and a bronze at the 2012 Games in London and the 800m gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The MBR Creative Sports Award congratulated UAE’s two medal-winners, and the team in general, and saluted their efforts despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 in the lead up to the Games as well as in Tokyo itself, where stringent precautionary measures and protocols were in place for the safety of the athletes.
The Award has always paid great attention to Para Athletes and the Paralympic Games, providing them with support and encouragement by honouring them in every session of the Award. Besides Aryani and Hammadi, the UAE team had included two other MBR Creative Sports Award winners – veteran powerlifter Mohammed Khamis, who was unable to add to his two Paralympic gold medals and a silver due to an unfortunate injury, and cyclist Ahmed Mubarak Al Mutaiwei.
In August, Arab athletes returned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with their biggest haul from the Summer Games, winning 18 medals - five gold medals, five silvers and eight bronze
In its 11th season now, the Award, which is one of the leading initiative of its kind in the world offering Dhs7.5 million in prize money, has been honouring Olympic and Paralympic champions since its inception in 2009.
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, has said that the emirate
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