Confident Rashid looks forward to second Games
February 17 2016 11:49 PM
Qatari shooter Rashid Saleh Hamad during a practice session yesterday; (right) coach Ahmed al-Kuwari.

By Yash Mudgal/Doha

Qatari shooter Rashid Saleh Hamad has set his sights firmly on an Olympic medal in his second chance.

British team coach Kevin Gill, Qatar Shooting and Archery Association (QSAA) board member Fatima Salem al-Jassiman, QSAA secretary general Abdulla Ali al-Mutawa al-Hammadi and UAE shooter Saif bin Fetais at a press conference ahead of Qatar Open Shotgun Championship at Lusail Shooting Ranger yesterday. PICTURE: Mamdouh

“Yes, I am ready for Rio and hope to finish on the podium,” a confident Rashid told Gulf Times during a practice session yesterday at the Lusail Shooting Range, the venue of the Qatar Open Shotgun Championship, which starts today.
“I am happy to earn Olympic quota. There are many who could never realise their dream of competing in the Olympics. And here, I’m ready for my second outing,” the 28-year-old shooter said.
Rashid had a disappointing Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games, where he failed to advance past the qualifying stage.
Though he failed to make it to the London squad four years later, he kept performing consistently well on the domestic circuit with his ambition and desire strong as ever.
His persistence was recently rewarded in New Delhi, where the Asian qualifying event for Rio de Janeiro Olympics was held.
Rashid shot 122 of the 125 targets in qualifiers. In the semi-finals, he scaled 14 of the 16 targets and though he could not make it to the medal stage, the fifth place was just enough for him to earn a ticket as gold medallist Saif bin Futtais of the UAE had already booked the Rio ticket during last year’s World Cup.
Rashid wants to prove that he earned the quota on merit and not because of Saif’s early qualification in New Delhi.
“Many people think that I’m lucky to get the Rio berth. But nobody knows how much effort has gone in to reach this far. The competition was quite hard. You can see how close the scores were in the qualifiers and semi-finals,” he said.
Qatar Open is the first competition for Rashid after earning the quota place.
“I am preparing for next month’s Cyprus World Cup. But before that Qatar Open is an important event for me. This is my range and I think the competition will be very strong, as there are many world champions and Olympic champions taking part. But a win here will boost my confidence further,” he said.
Rashid, who took a two-year study break from shooting, gave credit of his recent success to his coach Ahmed al-Kuwari. Rashid has been training with al-Kuwari for the last six months.
“Earlier, I was training with a Russian coach, but now I am training with Ahmed al-Kuwari and I must say I have improved a lot under his guidance,” Rashid said.
Al-Kuwari was all praise for his pupil.
“I am happy with his performance in India as we bagged the important quota place. We worked really hard before qualifying championship. I am with a shooter who is at the top of his game right now.
“Rashid is our top shooter. I tried some mind games with him which paid off. Handling the psychological aspect of the training was the turning point. I tried to do the same things which I have been doing with other shooters and the rest is history as they say, he got the quota,” al-Kuwari said.
“Before leaving for India I saw the quota in his eyes. I am glad and thrilled that he got it, I am satisfied with the progress he has made so far but more hard work needs to be done.
“We are five months away from the Rio Games and I am hopeful that he will improve and we will be able to achieve something big there. I am trying to read the mind of Rashid at a deeper level so that I can change him accordingly.”

Record number of entries for Qatar Open Shotgun

By Sports Reporter/Doha

The Sixth Qatar Open Shotgun Championship, which begins at the Losail Shooting Range today, will provide a platform for preparations in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Qatar Shooting and Archery Association secretary general Abdulla Ali al-Mutawa al-Hammadi, while addressing a press conference yesterday, expressed his delight at the high number of shooters present during this year’s edition.
“We’re really very pleased to announce that we’ve got a record number of entries for the 2016 edition of the Qatar Open in Shotgun. As many as 280 shooters in various categories of the senior and junior, men and women sections have confirmed their participation,” he said.
He said the Olympic hopefuls will get another chance in the championship to fine tune their skills before the Rio Games.
“The presence of such a large number of shooters makes us feel very proud of our event. This year, as you know, we’ve the Olympic Games in Rio in August. The competition in each event is going to be quite high. Not only former world and Olympic champions are present here, there’re 34 shooters who have won the Olympic quota places for their respective countries,” he said.
Talking about growth of the tournament, he said: “Over the years, we’ve been developing the sport and range. The shooters love coming and contesting here and there can’t be more clear proof of this than the presence of such big number of shooters from 37 nations.”
On Qatari shooters, he said, “We’re fielding 55 shooters. There are senior as well as junior shooters, who will gain some valuable experience, besides getting a chance to parade their talent.
“We’ve also gained two Olympic quota places through Rashid Saleh Hamad (Skeet) and Vitaly Dovgun (50m Rifle 3 Positions). We’re preparing our shooters in the best possible ways. This is an ideal opportunity for us to test our skeet shooters before we finalise who will go to represent Qatar in the Rio Olympics.”
Hammadi said: “The deadline for submitting the names for the Olympics is April 1. After the Qatar Open, our shooters will go to Cyprus for the World Cup. That is the cut off meet for us and then we’ll finalise the name for the skeet event.”
The ISSF World Cup for Shotgun is scheduled in Nicosia from March 17. Besides, Rashid Salah, 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah is also fancying his chances to go for his sixth Olympics despite failing to make it count at the final Asian qualifying event held in India recently.
UAE shooter Saif bin Fetais said the championship is an important one before the Olympics. “The Qatar event will help us to fine tune our skills before the Olympics,” Saif said.
British team coach Kevin Gill, who was also present on the occasion said: “We have fifteen shooters in our team for the championship and hope to exchange some experiences during the tournament.”
Competitions will be held in skeet, trap and double trap events. The championship will end on February 25.
Hammadi added that they have also received an invitation to participate in the 6th Children of Asia International Sports Games, which will be held in Yakutsk, Russia, from July 6-9, 2016.

Last updated: February 17 2016 11:55 PM

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