Abdullah Al Marri (UAE) : "Equestrianism is evolving fast in our region ... and slowly we develop with it!"

Abdullah Al Marri (UAE) : "Equestrianism is evolving fast in our region ... and slowly we develop with it!"

The United Arab Emirates is celebrating after making history by qualifying for the Olympic Games as an equestrian team for the first time. “It’s a dream come true for us, of course,” Al Marri said. “It was a special day for us, but I think the path to our qualification and our success in Doha started nearly four years ago in Morocco when we failed to make the Tokyo Olympics.

“We were so poor that day. Everything about our performance was awful and I think we really had to think again about a lot of things. We felt we had let people down and we were absolutely determined to not feel like that again.

“A lot of hard work has been put in by our team of athletes and everyone else over these last few years. We have so much support from a lot of people, not least HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Al Shira’aa which is developing all aspects of equestrian sports in our country.

“This time we wanted to put our country on the map!”

“Exciting for Our Country!”

Saudi Arabia finished top in the qualifying competition, but the UAE team was able to outperform third-placed Egypt, Morocco and hosts Qatar.

“We certainly felt confident this time,” Al Marri said. “We were against the same nations as last time so we knew it would be hard. We thought Saudi Arabia would be a big threat as they have a very strong history and have some top athletes and they have their impressive new horses too. We beat them in Sharjah recently and we were aware that while they have so much talent, their partnerships are so new.

“But the main thing is that we arrived in the right frame of mind and, this time, delivered. We were obviously delighted and there was a celebration planned for our return home, which is so nice.”

Paris 2024 starts in a little more than 500 days, so there’s a long time to wait for the UAE athletes, but that also means more time to ensure they maximise their potential on the world stage.

“That’s how we see it – we have time on our side,” Al Marri said. “There’s now 16 months until the Games, so all that time to make improvements and be as good as we can be. The good news is that we qualified our horses in Doha, so that means they will be available and makes things less complicated.

“It is very exciting for our country. The UAE rarely qualifies for team events in the Olympics and tends not to have too many athletes overall. Now we have a great opportunity to encourage the whole country to get behind us, support us and maybe discover an interest or love for equestrian sports. That is an exciting prospect.”

 source: FEI Media Hub