Maldives sprinter qualifies for 100 meter sprint semi-finals at Asian Games

Maldives sprinter Hassan Said qualifies for the 100 meter sprint semi-finals of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games with a sprint time of 10.50 seconds.

In the first time a Maldivian athlete has passed the first round at Asian Games, the second biggest sporting event in the world, Said broke the national sprint record for the fifth time in his career.

He qualified for the semi-finals after placing fourth in the third heat race of the 100 meter sprints.  Said was behind athletes from South Korea, Japan and Iran.

Said, who has completed trainings at the Jamaica’s high performance training center for athletes will be competing against 16 runners today in the semi-finals where the top eight will be qualify for the sprint finals.


Maldives trailblazers say medals don’t matter: AFP

“Their swimmers train in the Indian Ocean and the women soccer and handball players haven’t managed a goal between them at the Asian Games, but the Maldives says it does not care about success — yet,” writes the AFP.

“Getting 142 athletes from the poor islands, best known as a honeymoon paradise, to the Games in Incheon, South Korea, has already been an achievement, according to team leaders.

And a Muslim nation insisting that at least a third of the team should be women has also raised eyebrows among fellow Islamic states.

South Korean fans have taken to their hearts the athletes from a nation of less than 350,000 who have yet to win a medal at the Asian Games or Olympics.

The swimmers are often still battling in the pool long after rivals have finished. The women’s footballers conceded 38 goals in three matches without scoring and Japan beat their handball team by a huge 79-0.

But Maldives Olympic Committee secretary general Ahmed Marzooq said the results do not matter.

“Just before we came I told the athletes that there would be criticism and comments. But I told them, ‘We don’t care about any result that comes, just perform, just enjoy the Games.'”

In an indication of the difficulties their athletes face, swimmers Nishwan Ibrahim and Aishath Sajina have to train in the Indian Ocean — at night — off the capital Male.

‘We swim in the sea and there’s a current and lots of rubbish, and it’s dark,” Ibrahim told AFP. “We don’t have any swimming pools. It’s really different from the pool here. It’s difficult in the pool, the sea is more buoyant.’ ”

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Asian Games 2014 kicks off with the biggest ever Maldivian team

The largest sporting event in Asia, the Incheon Asian Games 2014, has officially kicked off with 13,000 athletes from 45 Asian nationalities participating in 42 different sports.

The event officially started on the Friday (September 19) with a lively opening ceremony featuring a large fireworks display, 10,000 athletes from 45 nations and a performance by South Korean superstar PSY.

The Maldives team, with a contingent of more than 200 competing in six disciplines, is the biggest ever Maldivian group to represent the country at an international event.

The Maldivian flag bearer for the ceremony was Ismail Sajid, one of the key members of the volleyball team.

The six disciplines in which the Maldives team is competing are badminton, athletics, swimming, beach volleyball, football and – for the first time – a women’s handball team is representing the Maldives.

The Maldivian government reportedly gave the contingent a sum of MVR3.8 million (US$247,074). In addition they are believed to have received financial support from the organisers of the Asian games covering their transportation and accommodation cost.

Speaking to local media, vice president of the swimming association of Maldives Ismail Shareef, said that the Maldivian swimmers are not aiming for medals but to outdo the current national records for swimming – many of which fell during July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“It is extremely hard to earn a medal at the Asian games. We do not even have the proper facilities to train for such high caliber events,” said Shareef.

Not having the proper facilities and guidance to train for such events is a complaint heard often within the Maldivian sports community, which often has to train in under equipped facilities and sometimes unsafe training environments.

Earlier this year, badminton was stopped as the Malé Ekuveni Sports complex was closed after the building was deemed unsafe, leaving the national team with no venue to practice and the Badminton Association of Maldives having to cancel an international tournament.

The government has promised a sports complex as part of the Hulhumalé Youth City project and has also pledged to transform Ekuveni into a sports city.