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Erbil cyclists have modest results at Arab championship.

Summary: Young team needs more experience

The Erbil cycling team traveled to United Arab Emirates to take part at the sixth Arab Cycling Championships on Nov. 15. Event organizers welcomed the Erbil delegation on its arrival in Ra'as Al-Khaima, where the championships were held. On its second day, the team held a training session.

The Erbil team consisted of 13 athletes and personnel: Mahmud Aziz, staff head; Yaseen Tahir, referee; Rebin Ramzi, pressman; Musa Muhsin, coach; Abdulqader Ahmad, coach; Orfios Jalal, mechanic; Massimo Fauzi, cyclist; Jovan Tomi, cyclist; Suleiman Sami, cyclist; Amanj Sherzad, cyclist; Rebaz Sherzad, cyclist; Rebaz Muzaffar, cyclist; and Abdullah Abdulkhazayar, cyclist.

On the second day of the five-day championships, the Erbil athletes suspended their activities, protesting the flying of the old Iraqi flag from the Saddam Hussein era. Later, the Supervision Committee and organizers officially apologized, saying it was a technical error.

The 20th Arab championships to be held in Erbil

On Nov. 18, representatives of the participating teams met with Sheikh Faisal Hamid, Ra'as Al-Khaima's governor. The hour-long meeting was an exchange of ideas. During the meeting, Erbil was selected to host the 20th Arab Cycling Championships for men and the 10th Arab Championships for women.

"Iraqi Cycling Association members and Erbil city sports officials have shown their readiness for hosting this important event. Because most of the Arab clubs participate in the championships every time, we'd like to start preparing for it as soon as possible," said Aziz.

Erbil team attended a football match

The Erbil team, along with other participating teams, attended the Al-Ettisalat Cup match between Emirate FC and Al-Jazeera FC. Then they attended a dinner before holding a logistics conference for the next day's cycling competition.

Erbil placed 10th in the competition. The last round was a 140-kilometer ride with seven turns and Erbil entered the race with six cyclists against 66 cyclists from 12 Arab clubs. The participating clubs included Erbil and Sina'a from Iraq; Fatih and Abha from Saudi Arabia; Ahli, Emirate and Nasir from UAE; Amin Watni from Libya; Muhafaza from Syria; Tala'ea Jaish from Egypt; Doha from Qatar; and Bin Hamza from Bahrain.

In the last round, Khider placed 10th, which was Erbil's best result. Tomi placed 30th, Fareeeq came in 40th and Sherzad placed 41st. Suleiman, who placed 42nd and Muzafar who came in 47th, had been expected to place higher.

Fighting among cyclists

.When the cyclists were heading to the seventh turn, a fight started between the cyclists of Talae'a Jaish club and Ahli club cyclists. The referee committee didn't punish anyone, but based on cycling regulations, some should have been suspended for creating problems in the event.

The final rankings of the participating teams favored Syrian team Muhafaza, which came first and Saudi Arabian Fatih came in second, with Talae'a Jaish club in third place.

Commenting on the Erbil team's performance and results Aziz said, "The result is to some extent good, though we expected a better result. I am optimistic about Erbil because most of the cyclists are young and have time to improve."

Aziz considers the competition at this championship as tough, because most of the teams sent their national team cyclists, who are preparing for the upcoming Arab Countries Championships in Qatar.

When asked why Erbil cyclists excel in domestic tournaments but perform less well in international competition, Aziz answered: "Our cyclists are young and have no experience. The international competitions will help them to trust themselves and learn from others. I believe they can get better if they try hard and do their daily training under the supervision of their coaches."

Some criticize Erbil club athletes for poor results in international competitions, despite funding from the government and other sources. The cycling team, for example, gets high-quality equipment and is better funded than other clubs in the Kurdistan Region. Sports observers ask, "Can other clubs do better if their athletes are funded like Erbil's are?"

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Date:Nov 26, 2011
Words:668
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