The UAE shooting team promises serious contenders for an Olympic medal. Gruffudd Owen profiles the marksmen gunning for glory across two disciplines
1. His Highness Sheikh Saeed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will be competing at his fifth consecutive Games in Rio in the skeet event. The 39-year-old made his Olympic bow at the Sydney Games in 2000, and while he has yet to reach the podium, the Dubai royal family member has tasted success in other events, including the 2006 Asian Shooting Championships and the Shotgun World Cup in 2011. He will be hoping to replicate his form at these events in his bid to finally earn an Olympic medal this summer.
2. He may be firmly focused on shooting in Rio, but His Highness Sheikh Saeed retains a keen interest in other sports too. He is the owner of international award-winning racehorses through the Godolphin Stables, and is also Chairman of UAE Arabian Gulf League football team Al Shabab.
3. Khaled Al Kaabi – whose day job is a first warrant officer with Abu Dhabi Police – heads to the Olympics in confident spirits after securing his place at Rio by clinching double trap gold at February’s Asian Shooting Qualifiers held in New Delhi. Remarkably, however, the shooter is a relative newcomer to the sport, having first picked up a gun on the competitive circuit just two and a half years ago following an amateur career in archery.
4. The key to Al Kaabi’s meteoric rise may be down to the fact that he is coached by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, who won the UAE’s first-ever Olympic medal when he struck gold in double trap at the 2004 Games in Athens. With HH Sheikh Ahmed also coaching Briton Peter Wilson to double trap gold in London four years ago, Al Kaabi will feel that his mentor’s expertise could prove invaluable as the Games edge ever nearer.
5. Saif Bin Futtais is the third and final member of the UAE’s three-man Olympic shooting team. Like HH Sheikh Saeed, the Emirati will be competing in the skeet event, and qualified for Rio after triumphing in three shoot-offs at the 2015 Shotgun World Cup in Cyprus.
6. Despite achieving his Olympic berth at this event, Bin Futtais still took part in the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition in New Delhi, coming away with gold. His wins at both the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Asian Shooting Championships mean he will be regarded as one of the strongest shooters in his discipline, and a good chance for a medal.
The Olympic shooting competition runs from Saturday, August 6 to Sunday, August 14