DUBAI, June 21 (Reuters) - Weightlifter Khadija Mohammad on Thursday became only the second woman to be chosen for the United Arab Emirates Olympic team.
The athlete, who will compete in the 75kg category in London, was named after the country’s women’s weightlifters secured one place at the London Games by finishing fifth in the Asian Championships in South Korea last month.
““We are proud to belong to this historic moment when we see one of our women athletes qualify to an Olympic Games,” Mohammad Al Kamali, General Secretary of the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC), told UAE newspaper Gulf News.
The only other woman to compete for the UAE since it began participating in the Olympics in 1984 was Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Beijing four years ago.
The daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister and Vice-President of the UAE, she took part in the women’s under-67 kg taekwondo.
Only Brunei, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have yet to have female athletes participate in an Olympic Games, although Brunei and Qatar are expected to send women to take part in London.
Six London-bound athletes across four sports were named in a ceremony at Dubai Aquarium on Thursday.
They will form part of an expected contingent of 32 from seven sports, the country’s largest-ever representation at an Olympic Games, a UAE NOC press release said.
Three of the athletes named were from the sport of shooting with two, Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and Sheikh Juma Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum, from Dubai’s ruling family, together with Dhaher Al Eryani.
Sheikh Saeed will compete in the skeet, Sheikh Juma in the double trap and Al Eryani in the trap.
Shooting is the only event the UAE has won an Olympic medal in, with another member of Dubai’s ruling family, Sheikh Ahmad bin Mohammad bin Hasher Al Maktoum, claiming gold in the double trap in Athens in 2004.
Also named on Thursday were swimmer Mubarak Salem Al Besher and Humaid Al Derei from judo, selected after the UAE received wildcard invitations to take part.
The sports still to name their athletes from the UAE are sailing, athletics and men’s football.
The soccer squad, which will make up the majority of the UAE contingent, won a place at the Olympics for the first time and will face hosts Great Britain, Senegal and Uruguay.
The Games officially open on July 27 and run until August 12, although the football tournament begins on July 25.
Editing by Ed Osmond