Omani swim­mer wins in­ter­na­tional praise

“I am sure that she will be the base for the fu­ture of Omani girls in sports, not only in swim­ming, but in gen­eral,” said the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia

Times of Oman - - OMAN -

Times News Ser­vice

MUS­CAT: Omani swim­mer Lara Al Yafei has re­ceived praise from the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia as she seeks to be­come the first woman to com­pete for the Sul­tanate at an Olympic event.

Six­teen-year-old Lara rep­re­sented the Sul­tanate at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, the cap­i­tal of Ar­gentina, and fin­ished third among eight com­peti­tors in the open­ing heat of the 50 me­tre breast­stroke com­pe­ti­tion, set­ting a per­sonal best of 37.75 sec­onds.

The event in­cluded 43 par­tic­i­pants, with Lara fin­ish­ing 36th over­all, with the top 16 ad­vanc­ing to the next round.

But Hus­sain Al Musal­lam, the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia, said Lara must con­tinue to work hard, be­cause she is set­ting an ex­am­ple for all Oma­nis.

“My mes­sage to her is to con­tinue work­ing,” he said, in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Times of Oman.

“Don’t look only at the re­sult and com­pare it to oth­ers, be­cause you are the first girl from Oman who will lead a bright fu­ture for other Omani girls in swim­ming and other sports.

“The chal­lenge of cul­ture and re­li­gion in Oman is huge, but I con­grat­u­late her, for her en­cour­age­ment, her love and pas­sion for sports, and I am sure that she will be the base for the fu­ture of Omani girls in sports, not only in swim­ming, but in gen­eral, other sports, which is im­por­tant for the fu­ture.”

Al Musal­lam added that there needed to be an in­cen­tive from na­tional bod­ies to en­cour­age ath­letes to per­form, even if it wasn’t al­ways in the form of fi­nan­cial gain. Ahead of the Asian Games, South Korea’s na­tional foot­ball team was told that they would be able to ex­empt them­selves from com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice if they won a gold medal at the tour­na­ment.

“Dur­ing the Asian Games, the South Korean Olympic Team for foot­ball was told that if they won a gold medal, they would not go to the army,” he said.

“This was an in­cen­tive for them, so they were train­ing very hard to rep­re­sent their coun­try, reach the podium and be awarded a gold medal so that they would not go to the army. This is a sort of in­cen­tive, even if it is not a cash in­cen­tive. We need this sort of co­or­di­na­tion.”

HIGH HOPES: Six­teen-year-old Lara rep­re­sented the Sul­tanate at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

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