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Buthaina set to make history in Beijing.

Byline: Arif Ali

MUSCAT: Oman made history on April 14, 2008 by becoming the only host city in the Middle East when the Olympic flame passed through.

Once again, Oman is set to enter the history books, and this time in the Beijing arena, as 17-year-old Buthaina Hamoud Al-Yaqoobi makes her maiden appearance in the Olympics.

The young and talented Buthaina will be the first woman athlete to represent Oman in any Olympics.

Hailing from Al Hail, near Muscat, Buthaina took to the tracks only 18 months ago and since then has impressed one and all. She is being hailed as the best woman athlete in Oman (only eight women athletes train under the Women Sports Development Committee). She started training under Nahima bint Ahmed, a Tunisian coach who quit last April. Currently she is training hard under her temporary coach, Ahmed Al-Ma'amari.

Buthaina has participated in Arab Games, Islamic Games and the AGCC meet, where she has recorded her personal bests. Her best in 100m is 12.39 seconds, while her best in triple jump 10.34 meters and 4.70m in long jump.

In Beijing she will compete in the 100 meters and long jump.

"I am thrilled to be part of the delegation and I am looking forward to giving my best. This is the best opportunity in life - taking part in Olympics," said Buthaina. "It's a great opportunity to compete against the big names and I hope to improve on my personal best," said the 17-year-old in an interview with Arab News, adding: "I love to run fast, and running is a passion for me."

Khoula Al-Rawahi, an official of the WSDC, has been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the lone woman athlete in the delegation.

"It's a big step for women sports as for the first time Oman will be fielding a female athlete in Olympics," said Khoula. "She is our future and we are preparing her for the big events coming after the Beijing spectacle," added Khoula. "She is highly talented and currently the best athlete on the distaff side."

Apart from Buthaina, Oman is fielding only three more in quest for Olympic glory. On the track and field it will be the promising 24-year-old Abdullah Al- Sooli, while the others are 17-year old Mohammed Al-Habsi (swimmer) and experienced Alla Dad Noor Al-Balushi (shooter).

Al-Sooli, who is training abroad, boasts a 10.55 best in 100m and 21.27 best in 200m and will be taking part in these events.

Oman Athletic Association's Mansoor Al-Touqi said: "Abdullah is a very promising athlete and we are grooming him as the best medal hope in the 2010 Asian Games." Al-Touqi added Abdullah is improving fast under the watchful eyes of Ukrainian trainer Dimitry Vinaykin and, "We expect him to impress in Beijing."

Apart from the athletes the delegation members going to Beijing are: OOC Vice-Chairman Habib bin Abdulnabi Macki, Oman Tennis Association Vice-Chairman Majid bin Abdullah Al- Mantheri (chef-de-mission), OOC Secretary-General Hilal Al-Sinani, OOC Technical Adviser Abdulrahman Shantair, Ahmed Al Hattali and Hilal Al- Rushdie (shooting officials), Mansoor Al-Touqi and Khoula Al-Rawahi (athletics officials), Dimitry Vinaykin (athletics coach), Ashraf Al-Harbi (swimming official), Mahmmod Shihab Allah (physiotherapist) and Ahmed Ba'atmeira (ONA journalist).

Al-Mantheri said he felt extremely proud and honored to be the Chef-de-Mission of Oman's Olympic team. "It is an honor I shall treasure for the rest of my life," said the vice-chairman of the Oman Tennis Association.

He said Oman's participation has an added significance in that Muscat was the only city in the Middle East to host the Olympic Torch Relay.

"This well-deserved distinction has given a new edge to Oman-China ties." He said the importance of the Beijing Olympics couldn't be over-emphasized, judging by China's track record. "We are set to watch a rare sporting spectacle."

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Aug 3, 2008
Words:653
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