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UAE first to win 2016 Olympic Medal for Arab World
The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to win a medal in the Olympic competitions in Rio in Brazil.
Sergiu Toma, who was born in Moldova in the former Soviet Union and has been a UAE citizen for many years, won the Bronze Medal in Judo. Toma is one of three Moldovan-born athletes representing the UAE at the Rio Olympics.
The UAE has 13 athletes competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero in Brazil.
Still in Olympic competition are athletes from several Arab countries including Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Oman, Tunisia, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt and Morocco lead in terms of total Olympic medals won since the Arab World first entered the Olympics in 1912 and the total Olympic medals won so far is 95, according to several Arab World writers.
The UAE issued the following statement on their Olympic Committee website:
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; the rulers of emirates, Crown Princes and the Emirati people.
This is the first medal ever in judo for the UAE & Arab countries; and the second Olympic medal in the UAE history ending 12 years of drought. The UAE’s first ever Olympic medalist is Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum who won gold in double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The achievement was attended by Ibrahim Abdul Malik, Secretary-General of the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare; Mohammad Al Kamali, Secretary General of the UAE National Olympic Committee; Dawoud Al Hajri, Assistant Secretary-General of the UAE National Olympic Committee; Major General Ahmed Al Raisi, Chairman of the UAE National Olympic Committee Planning Committee; Abdul Mohsen Al Dosari Chairman of the Technical Committee at the UAE National Olympic Committee; Ahmed Al Kamali, President of Athletics Federation, and Ahmed Al Tayeb, Chef de Mission.
All Emirati athletes participating in the Olympics were in high spirits including Khalid Al Kaabi, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum and Saif bin Fetais who will participate in skeet shooting competition on Friday and Saturday.
Toma is through to the last 16 where when he defeated Germany’s Seven Maresch, and then triumphed against home hope Victor Penalber and Japan’s Takanori Nagase, the reigning world champion.
To clinch the bronze, Toma had already lost narrowly in the semi-finals to Russia’s Khasan Khalmurzaev who Khalmurzaev went on to win the gold.
“I’m very proud to represent the UAE and win the medal for them,” Toma said. “I want to thank all the people in the Emirates for helping me with my career. I dedicate this to them and to my mentor.”
The other Emirati judoka Ivan Remarenco will fight in the under-100kg contest in round 32 today against Algeria’s Laith Bu Yaaqoub.
On the other hand, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum and Saif bin Fetais will start the official trials for skeet shooting today, before participating in the skeet shooting contest tomorrow Friday. Nada Al Badwawi will be competing in the women’s 50 meters freestyle, while Alia Saeed and Bilaina Beitlaham will appear in the 1000 finals & 1,500 meter group stages respectively. Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum and Saif bin Fetais will continue their skeet shooting contest on Saturday, while Saoud Azzaabi will participate in the men’s 1500m race on 16 August, marking the end of the UAE participation in Rio Olympics.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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