Ashfaq appointed as Maldives’ first sports ambassador

The Maldives Olympic Committee has appointed national football team captain Ali Ashfaq as the country’s first sports ambassador.

“This is a great success, an honour. I will work with the government and sports associations to improve and promote the Maldives sports sector. I would like to thank senior members of the olympic committee for this great honour. I am very pleased,” he told local media.

As Maldives sports ambassador, Ashfaq will work to promote sports amongst children and younger generations and aid Maldives sports teams in seeking better recognition in the international arena, say reports.

The letter of appointment was presented to Ali Ashfaq at a special event at Traders Hotel, Malé.

Speaking to Sun Online, Ashfaq thanked the Maldives Olympic Committee and said he was looking forward to working with the different sports associations to improve the Maldives sports sector.


Maldives trounced in second-leg Olympic qualifier

Hong Kong soundly saw off the Maldives yesterday for a place in the second round of the Asian football qualifying matches for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, scoring three goals that allowed them ultimately to finish 7-0 victors over the course of two matches.

Three goals, all scored within the first half of the second leg match, allowed Hong Kong to confidently move into the next round of qualifiers to be drawn against other victorious teams from the around region at the end of the month.

Already four goals down from their first encounter in Hong Kong, any hopes for a Maldivian comeback were extinguished within twenty minutes of yesterday’s game when Lam Hok Hei netted his first goal of the match. Stephen Ha added to the score line four minutes later and a third was later claimed by Lam in the closing minutes of the first half.


Olympic rower prepares for 60km crossing in early morning darkness

Silver-medal winning Olympic rower Guin Batten has begun final preparations for the first recorded solo crossing of Maldives’ zero degree channel in a row boat.

The 42 year-old British medallist, who holds the world record for a solo crossing of the 30 kilometre English Channel, now intends to row 60 kilometres across the ‘zero degree’ channel that bisects the equator between Foammulah and Huvadhoo Atoll.

Touching down in Male’ on Saturday, Batten and her support team went straight to the meteorological office and decided to commence the attempt around 2:00am early tomorrow morning.

For over seven hours she expects to struggle against the swells, tides and currents of the Indian Ocean in her 35 kilogram rowing boat.

“Seven hours if everything goes right,” Batten told Minivan News, before her trip down to Thinadhoo.

The early morning start offers the best combination of weather conditions, although Batten acknowledges that rowing in the dark will be a challenge.

“Because it’s dark you don’t see the waves coming, but you can feel them rolling under you,” she explained. “There will be a technical element involved, because you lose power if the oars catch the water in an odd way, or you ‘catch a crab’ (miss the water altogether).”

For navigation, Batten has an onboard GPS device in the boat, as well as an ordinary magnetic compass by which to steer. Altogether, “I’m aiming for a speed of 19 strokes a minute,” she said.

Even fluid consumption will be a challenge – Batten will have to consume two litres of water an hour just to replace the fluid lost through sweat. Moreover, her hands are already blistered from her endurance training in the UK in the lead up to the event.

Batten's team chart the crossing, which she will attempt at 2:00am early tomorrow morning..
Batten's team chart the crossing, which she will attempt at 2:00am early tomorrow morning.

A heritage of rowing

Batten’s attempt at the zero degree crossing is not just a personal challenge, Batten told Minivan News. She is passionate about reintroducing the lost art of rowing to the Maldives, which largely disappeared across the country in the 80s with the proliferation of electric motors.

“Rowing is very technical and different countries have unqiue styles,” Batten explained. “At the moment the people who know [the Maldivian style] are probably 60 years old, so there’s a risk that all that knowledge and understanding could disappear.”

As well as inspiring Maldivians to row, Batten’s team are working on bringing over six boats to set up a rowing club. For now, however, she is focused on what the Indian Ocean may throw at her.

With all it challenges to contend with, she acknowledges that a key goal for her support boat “will be to remind me to have fun. The glass is half full!”

Batten’s world-first attempt at the zero degree crossing is supported by UK-based NGO Friends of Maldives, with assistance from British Airways, Coco Palm Resorts (Maldives) and Crew Room.