Oman hopeful of Olympic spot
Oman Sail officials have expressed high hopes on the two Omani teams that are vying for the only remaining Asian qualifying spot for the Tokyo Olympic Games in the 49er class when the Asia-Africa Olympic Qualifier are held during the Mussanah Open Championship at the Mussanah Sports City from April 1-8.
Oman Sail is organising the crucial regatta in a bio-secure bubble in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and a total of 102 men and women sailors from 16 countries will be in action chasing a dream Olympic berth in Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX and RS:X sailing and windsurfing classes.
Oman will be having high hopes from the two pairs in the 49er class - Musab al Hadi and Waleed al Kindi, and Abdul Rahman al Mashari and Ahmed al Hasni.
With the advantage of competing in home waters, the quartet are eyeing a place in Oman's sporting history as a qualification will make them the first sailors from the sultanate to achieve the feat.
In his remarks to the media on Monday, Rashid al Kindi, Oman Sail's director of sailing, said, “This is an incredibly important event in the sailing calendar and we are looking forward to a week of intense competitive sailing. Our own sailors are competing and despite the disruptions caused due to the pandemic, it is time for them to give their best and hopefully, make history by qualifying for Tokyo Games.
“We have worked with them for the past five years in this class and the sailors have now the chance to make us all proud by securing a spot at the Tokyo Olympic Games in July-August.”
He added, “The Mussanah Open Championship is the last opportunity for our Omani sailors and they are up against a tough competition. I am hopeful that one of the two Oman teams will make history at home.”
Kindi said, “Mussanah has proven to be an excellent host in the past. Due to COVID-19 disruptions, World Sailing and the Asian Sailing Federation (ASAF) selected Oman to host the event. We have created a bio-secure bubble for all athletes and delegates with strict measures in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“We are grateful to the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth and the Oman Olympic Committee for their continued support in organising the qualifier.
“We also thank the Millennium Resort Mussanah, National Mineral Water Company and the International Maritime College Oman (IMCO) for their support to this event.”
Each day of action will be divided into a coach briefing in the morning with racing in the afternoon, giving all competitors the opportunity to familiarise themselves with their equipment as well as the judging criteria and regulations.
Racing at the Mussanah Open Championship will begin on April 3 and the prize giving and closing ceremonies will take place on April 8.
As events were cancelled and rescheduled due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, Oman sailors' preparations for Olympic qualification took them to training camps in Vilamoura, Portugal, during late 2020.
All sailors, coaches and delegates are currently on site and currently making final preparations for the event which will serve to bolster Oman’s image as one of the world’s most exciting sailing hosts.