Our athletes achieved much on the world stage over the past year, and set the standard for our juniors to follow.
Musandam-Oman Sail made the Sultanate proud after setting a new world record during its sensational victory in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race in June. Sailing around Ireland, the crew crossed the finish line at 3.47am local time, just as dawn broke. The new world-record time of 38 hours, 37 minutes and seven seconds smashed Musandam-Oman Sail’s previous best of 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, set in 2015.
2016 was the year the hills at Muttrah were alive with the sound of an F1 car. This was not only the first time a 850-horsepower Formula One car powered through the streets of Oman, but also the first time residents got to see former F1 star David Coulthard in action. Also, gracing the event was Omani racing driver Ahmed al Harthy, who showcased his limited-edition Aston Martin Vulcan to the many spectators who had gathered despite heavy thunder showers.
Oman’s Fatma al Nabhani put the country on the map of world tennis as after winning three runner-up trophies at ITF Pro Circuit tournaments in Rabat, Morocco; the ITF Pro Circuit tournament in Casablanca; and the ITF Las Palmas de Gran Canaria tournament in Spain, keeping her fans happy and her country proud.
Oman entered the ICC World Cup T20 qualifiers with few hopes of qualifying. However, a thriller against the big guns from Ireland not only boosted their confidence on the world stage but also inched them closer to the final 10. However, a 54-run loss against Bangladesh sent the team crashing into third position, thus eliminating any hopes of qualifying for the finals. But cricket experts hailed Oman’s efforts as “heroic” and “inspiring”.
Oman’s hopes of going into Round 3 in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers went down the drain after Iran edged out Oman by two goals. Oman had earlier come out on top against countries such as India, Turkmenistan and Guam – securing a healthy 14 points before the final match. Oman was placed second in the group but was still nudged aside by the likes of the UAE, China, Syria and Iraq, meaning our hopes for a ticket to Russia in 2018 were crushed.
Oman’s participation in the Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro last year marked the country’s ninth consecutive appearance at the summer Games. It may not have been our most successful to date but sprinter Barakat al Harthi certainly raised our hopes when he finished third in the quarter-finals of the 100m. However, he failed to qualify for the semi-finals by a whisker (0.11 seconds). Other Omani athletes included Mazoon al Alawi (100m), Hamed Said al Khatri (Men’s 50m rifle 3 positions) and Wadha al Balushi (Women’s 10m air pistol).
Oman’s young karting star Shihab bin Ahmed Al Habsi made his country proud when he took pole position in the third round of the 2016/17 UAE X30 Challenge at RAK Track in Ras Al Khaimah. The youngster not only showed his mettle in the qualifying rounds but also edged out his opponents by more than one second over the course of 17 laps.
Close to 1,500 contestants lined up at the starting line of the Sultanate’s first-ever international-level endurance “Spartan Race”, which was organised by the XDubai at Jebel Sifah. The race featured a 6.5km track that was riddled with obstacles ranging from fire and cold water – which contestants had to scale – to complete the race.
After five days, six-stages and 984 gruelling kilometres, Vincenzo Nibali took home the prestigious Tour of Oman title last year. Some of the world’s top cyclists took to the roads and hills of Oman, in the seventh edition of the Tour of Oman. Many residents also lined the streets to cheer on contenders.