Al-Maktoum gearing up to defend his Olympic gold

July 30th, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 30 (Xinhua) Ahmed Al-Maktoum enjoys an iconic status in his country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), not because he is descendant of Dubai’s ruling family but because he won the first ever Olympic gold medal for his country in Athens in 2004 Games. As Olympic Games draws near, the shooter who arrived at Beijing Monday said his expectation has changed. “I came here because I won the quota and it’s an honour to be at the Olympics, but I don’t expect anything,” the double trap shooter said.

Al-Maktoum believes his family has talent in shooting. His grandfather and his father loved shooting. His cousin Saeed Al-Maktoum was gold medallist at the Asian Shooting Championships in 2003 and a runner-up at the Doha Asian Games in 2006.

The 44-year-old Al-Maktoum started shooting in 1998, after he had dominated at squash in UAE for 16 years, wrapping up almost all the gold medals in domestic competitions.

In 2005, he secured a quota place in men’s double trap to the Beijing Olympic Games, but later disappeared from shooting ranges. “To win a gold medal is both good and bad,” he said.

“Good is you have won a gold, bad is you won’t be so interested in the sport. When I won the Olympics and the world championship, I had everything. There’s nothing to work for.”

So his shooting took a back seat and he got married. He adores his ten-month-old daughter. “She is my gold medal,” he says with a smile.

Although his wife supported his career in shooting, Al-Maktoum wanted to enjoy his own life, staying with his family, going to gyms, playing squash, going hunting and helping the national team.

At the Good Luck Beijing ISSF Shooting World Cup this April, he was ranked 25th in his discipline. But this didn’t seem to have influenced him much. “In fact I started training just two months before coming here, two hours to six hours a day,” he said.

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