At home in Dubai, UAE’s para archers hoping to leave legacy

The UAE team shoots at home in Dubai.

Nothing separates the three archers from the United Arab Emirates – Gholam Rahiminia, Mohammed Alshehhi and Habib Alblooshi – as they prepare to compete in a home World Archery Para Championships.

The trio of compound men from the Asian nation are jointly-ranked 68th in the para world rankings and are looking to impress on home soil. Events get underway in Dubai with the qualification rounds tomorrow (Tuesday).

“We are very excited and hoping to get a good result here,” said Rahiminia, who lives in the host city. “We have trained hard for the last three months with a new coach, training and more training.”

That new coach is former Latvian athlete, coach, delegation official and team manager Elina Lapsina. She’s helped Rahiminia get in perfect shape to make some archery noise on the world stage for the United Arab Emirates.

“My body feels good and we are [all] aiming to get scores of 680,” said the 49-year-old, who competed in para powerlifting between 1997 and 2012, finishing ninth at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. “We hope to shoot well this week.”

Alshehhi also had a different sporting career before discovering the bow and arrow, competing in para athletics before switching to archery in 2011.

UAE archery

Both Rahiminia and Alshehhi train at the host venue – the Dubai Club for People of Determination – and will be appearing at their third World Archery Para Championships, following Donaueschingen 2015 and Beijing 2017, while Alblooshi is making his debut at this level.

All three are regulars at the annual Dubai-hosted Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament, most recently held in February 2021 and long-time national coach Ali Rao Berenjian is in no doubt about how the arrival of the world’s superstars in Dubai will help his archers.

“Playing against the big stars here will definitely boost our archers’ confidence, especially for Habib, who will shoot in his first world championships,” he said.

“Archery is relatively a new sport in UAE and the interest is on the rise to learn the sport in the country. Female players are also showing interest and it’s just a matter of time until we have a larger pool of archers scoring good scores.”

The UAE team will compete in the individual and new doubles competitions this week.

Photos courtesy Yayha Essa (Dubai Club for People of Determination).

Quotes courtesy Priyanka Sharma (organising committee) and Antoni Cichy.

Member Associations