Eyeing medals, Oman to send young team to Jakarta
July 28, 2018 | 9:25 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Oman will be sending a young team to the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia, as the country looks to groom a pool of athletes that will bring fame and glory to the Sultanate for many years to come.

A total of eight teams will represent Oman at the event, which will be held in Jakarta from August 18 to September 2.

According to Taha Al Kishry, Secretary General of the Oman Olympic Committee, this is to give them tournament experience that will be important in the years to come. “Our swimming team, for example, is very young, with an average age of around 20,” he said.

“If we give a 19-year-old athlete the chance to compete at tournaments such as this one, he will gain some very good experience, and this will be good for him in the future. We want to develop a young group of athletes that will be able to perform very well at international tournaments such as this in the future.”

“Whether it is tournaments such as the Asian Games or the Olympic Games, we want our athletes to do well and bring fame to Oman, and in keeping with that, we have developed a plan for our athletes to be competitive in the future,” added Al Kishry.

Eleven Omanis will take part in athletics, two in swimming, six in shooting, one in weightlifting, three in sailing, four in beach volleyball, 18 in hockey, and two in tennis. Of the 45 athletes, four are women. “This plan began four years ago, when we implemented a strategy for all the teams that were to participate in tournaments such as the Asian Games or the Olympic Games,” said Saif Al Hosni, Vice President of the Oman Olympic Committee.

“One year ago, we sent a memo to all the committees and associations that wished to participate at both the Asian Games in Jakarta and the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.”

“It was a five-phase programme to select the teams, with the first phase starting in October 2017 and next phases occurring in January, March, May, and July 2018,” he added.

“We decided that eight teams would participate in the Asian Games, and as part of this, we formed a dedicated team to go on the ground and check whether the teams were performing as per the plans that we set out for them one year ago.”

Originally, 10 teams were scheduled to participate in the Asian Games, but it was eventually decided that the Oman parasailing squad and, surprisingly, the football team would not travel to Indonesia.

The decision to exclude Oman’s football team came after the squad’s poor performance at the AFC Under-23 championship in China, while parasailing was not part of this year’s games.

“We are now at the end of the evaluation phases and have submitted our proposal to the board of the Olympic Committee,” added Al Hosni. “The eight committees in question are responsible for carrying out the plans for the various sports, under our supervision.”

Funding for the Asian Games outfits was provided by the Zubair Corporation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports. Oman is hoping to earn two gold medals at the Asian Games.

“With the preparation we have undertaken, we think two gold medals is a decent target for us at the Asian Games this time around,” explained Al Hosni.

“Of course, that estimate will change, should our athletes reach the quarter or semi-finals of their sports, and then maybe we will see if there are more medals we can possibly win.”

“For now, we think this is a realistic expectation, but we want to better this in the future,” he added.

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