Sailing: Windsurfer Mohammed Al Balushi to represent Oman at Youth Olympic Games

Sports Tuesday 14/August/2018 20:40 PM
By: Times News Service
Sailing: Windsurfer Mohammed Al Balushi to represent Oman at Youth Olympic Games

MUSCAT: Omani teenager Mohammed Al Balushi will become the first sailor to ever represent the Sultanate at a youth Olympics event, when he travels to Argentina this October.
The 15-year-old will take part in the Men’s Windsurfing Techno 293+ class at the event in Buenos Aires, which is being held from October 6 to 18.
Mohammed’s participation at the youth Olympics is historic for the Sultanate, which has a long history and tradition of sailing, and has actively been promoting it as a sport through its national youth sailing programme, spearheaded by Oman Sail.
“Mohammed’s selection for the Youth Olympic Games is the result of a huge amount of dedication and hard work by the team,” said David Graham, Oman Sail CEO.
“Every member of the youth squad has contributed to this great achievement and I would also like to pay tribute to the dedication and expertise of the coaches and support staff, who have all made this possible.” “It is a historic moment for both Oman Sail and the whole country,” he added. “Almost 10 years ago, Oman Sail was established with the goals of reasserting the Sultanate’s maritime heritage and sending a sailor to the Olympic Games, and this is a significant milestone on that journey that we can all be proud of.”
Born in 2003, Mohammed joined the windsurf youth programme in 2014. On his journey to selection, he took part in a number of international championships such as the World Championships and European Championships in 2017 and European Championships and Asian Championships this year.
At the recent World Championships in Latvia, he was placed 19th in a 35-strong fleet of competitive international sailors. Oman earned its spot at the Youth Olympic Games when it was awarded a special “universality place” in recognition of the youth team’s impressive performance at the international Youth Olympic Games qualifying regattas since 2016.
The final decision was made from a shortlist of three youth squad teammates—Omar Al Qartoubi, Mohammed Al Balushi and Ali Al Omrani—following an international regatta in Poland, three training camps in Masirah, and the Techno 293+ World Championships in Latvia earlier this month. Announced by World Sailing, yacht racing’s global governing body, universality places are awarded by the International Olympic Committee only to athletes meeting the required technical and eligibility criteria.
Under the Olympic rules, countries are limited to a single place in each sailing category. The final selection decision for Buenos Aires was made by Oman Sail youth squad’s coaches and managers, including Windsurfing National Coach Sultan Al Balushi.
Oman Sail was set up in 2008 with a Youth Windsurf Programme starting at the Mussanah sailing centre in 2014. A national windsurf team took part in its first international event in 2016, followed by places at the Youth World and European Championships in 2017.