Muscat: Oman’s 13-year medal drought at the Asian Games ended on Tuesday when the pair of Musab Al Hadi and Waleed Al Kindi finished second after the conclusion of the men’s skiff - 49er sailing event at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre for a historic silver medal.
Al Hadi, who was at the helm, and with Al Kindi as crew, the pair garnered a net points count of 46 to finish behind the event winners, Zaiding Wen and Tian Liu of China, who collected a net points count of 42 at the end of 14 races held over six days.
Hong Kong’s Luke Sakai and Williams Aylsworth completed the podium with a third place finish after a net score of 47 that edged the Indian pair of KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar, bronze medallists from Jakarta 2018.
Musab and Waleed scored a win and had three second-place and an equal number of third-place finishes while the lowest result in the 14 races was a sixth-place among the eight teams.
Oman’s last medal was won by an ace sprinter at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and since then the wait continued. Incidentally, Oman’s three of the five medals, including Tuesday’s silver, have been achieved in China.
The only gold medal for Oman came at the 1990 Beijing Asian Games when Mohammed Amur Al Malki won the 400m title while Barakat won bronze in 100m in Guangzhou and Tuesday’s silver coming at Hangzhou. The other two medals, Al Malki’s bronze in 400m and the 4x100m relay quartet’s bronze- were achieved in Seoul (1986) and Jakarta (1998) respectively.
Al Hadi and Al Kindi also got the first Asian Games sailing medal for Oman and the sailors are scheduled to be awarded the medals at a ceremony on Wednesday. With the formal award ceremony to be held on Wednesday, the official medals tally of the Hangzhou Asian Games failed to show Oman on the honours list.
The pair also secured automatic qualification to the Asian Qualification Regatta in Chon Buri, Thailand, in December where they will look to confirm their place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Soon after the final race, a delighted Al Hadi said: “We are very happy to represent the Sultanate of Oman in this major continental event and are delighted to win a silver medal for our nation. We dedicate this achievement to our dear homeland, and to all those who supported us on this journey. A special thanks to the technical team and our colleagues at Oman Sail.”
Hashim bin Hamad Al Rashidi, Oman Sail’s Head Coach Performance, said: “This achievement came as a result of the intense preparation and continuous training that preceded the tournament. The sailors were able to maintain focus and perform strongly throughout the competition. It was a strong test of the players' levels against the top sailors from across the Asian continent."
Al Rashidi added: “The next step for these two will be to obtain a seat in the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers, which will be held in Thailand in December 2023.”
An Omani delegation of 75 individuals, including 44 male and female athletes, are participating in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, across seven sports including athletics, weightlifting, swimming, shooting, sailing, beach volleyball, and hockey.
While the beach spikers, swimmers and shooters have failed to make any significant progress in their respective events, eyes will be on the athletes when the track and field competition begins.
The Asian Games are the largest continental sporting event and the second largest global event after the Summer Olympics. More than 12,000 male and female athletes are currently competing, representing 45 Asian countries in 40 sports.