With temperatures ranging in the high 90's in August and only dropping to the mid-60’s in the winter, the average person might not consider a snow sport the first choice for a team from United Arab Emirates, but four athletes from the area are here to prove that theory wrong.
Snowshoeing is their competition of choice and the four teammates, two women and two men, are sporting all three shades of medals to soundly confirm their athletic merit.
The team competed in the women’s and men’s 25m snowshoe event at Ramsau am Dachstein. On the women’s side, Reem H Albalooshi finished first for the gold and Maryam H Alzaabi placed third winning bronze. Both women are experienced snowshoe competitors holding national and international gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m, as well as 500m and 1000m respectively.
For the men, both new to snowshoeing, Ismaeil A Alhosni placed first for the gold medal and Ahmed A Aljailani finished second taking the silver medal.
While some might think the team trains on sand, they actually train inside at the Emirates Mall, which has an extensive, state-of-the-art indoor snow area accommodating several sports. The team trained intensely for 2 weeks, 6 - 9 a.m. daily, leading up to the 2017 Special Olympics ‘World Winter Games. Their training routine includes conditioning, stretching, walking and running as a warm-up, with sprints and endurance drills throughout each practice.
The 2017 Games were a great warm-up for the team as United Arab Emirates will host the 2019 Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.