For the first time, 5 extreme sportsmen from UAE will be participating in the annual Asian Extreme Sports Championship
We walk down, or perhaps when attempting to defy Father Time, jog across a kerb. They skate on it and frequently do back-flips in the air. We use bikes to relax and travel in a leisurely manner to the beach. To them it is for flying through the air… wind beneath their wheels.
Who are these daredevils? They are the ardent followers of extreme sports — young, with fire blazing through their hearts, living on the edge — the X-men. A merry lot they are, indeed, although their injury-tempting stunts would still all mirth in a weak heart.
For the very first time, a team of 16 extreme sportsmen from the Arab World will be participating in the annual Asian Extreme Sports Championship to be hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The international event — promoted and organized by Malaysian Extreme Sports Association & Asian Extreme Sports Federation — with 3 main categories including in-line skating, BMX Freestyle and skateboarding, will be held from June 28 to 30, 2013.
The team has been created after an extensive selection process and is essentially the result of efforts by of a former skater & Asian Extreme Sports Federation Vice President Sameh Gauch.
Gauch a keen enthusiast of extreme sports since 1992, and is the first extreme sports athletes from Arab world to be sponsor by international brands from and compete in international contest since 1996, in the emirates.
Gauch Visit UAE in 2002 for a promotional event realized there is a lot of interest and came back five months ago, to organize the first Local Extreme Sports Contest sponsor by Red Bull, since than Gauch touring Middle East & organizing extreme sports events for numbers of companies.
Gauch want the UAE to become a hub for extreme sports events in the Middle East, as it has the facilities and cosmopolitan environment needed for the purpose. With effort of other sportsman in Middle East they plan to establish an organization that will help create greater awareness, facilitate athletes and do away with the fear attached to the Extreme Sports Federations around the world.
He said the duo is working to get the next annual Asian Extreme Sports Championship to be held in the Abu Dhabi.
“The Middle East has very little representation in the games. Last year, we had only 2 countries from Middle East, this year we choose 16 athletes from 8 countries in Middle East.
“But, UAE is a harbour of Sports in Middle East, and people are enjoying visiting the cities of Emirates, as many tourists are discovering. With the Asian Championship a whole new sector will open up, bringing in younger people. In the Asia alone, there are over 80 million extreme sports practitioners,” said Gauch.
A sentiment echoed by Gauch, he feels the region holds immense potential in the field and is waiting to be tapped.
Mark Isaa, 17 years Lebanese. Extreme Sports is pretty heated at the moment in Middle East, public think we are putting our self in dangerous sport but like any sport, be it football or any other activity, which involves physical exertion, and there is always the probability of injury in extreme games. But, like all sensible sportsmen, we wear protective gear… it is not about endangering your life, but about pushing your physical capabilities to the limits,” explains Gauch.
“We have international caliber talent in the country including nationals and expatriates. For example, Khaled Al Dhaheri, (16 years, UAE), who is part of the Malaysia-bound team to compete in the Skateboard Category, has participated in over 20 local competitions. He is known as one of the UAE best,” he said.
They are young and dream of achieving world standards; the rest of the team shares this desire, although with a hint of reservation.
Khaled explains: “Making UAE a extreme sports hub is definitely a possibility… the place has a very global environment, and many people come here for entertainment.
“And not many extreme sports athletes have the funds to travel. Hopefully Abu Dhabi with its commercial development will throw up sponsorships.
“However, the one thing that acts against it is the weather; it gets very hot in summer for extreme outdoor sports.”
Mubarak Al Hajeri, 14 years old, a UAE national who will compete in the BMX Freestyle category in Kuala Lumpur, dismisses the detractions. He said: “I learnt BMX Freestyle from my friend, 9 month ago. I loved the skill and display, and now I’m representing my country in Asian Championship. “Our country has a tradition of sports; we are a people who have survived by pushing our physical limits… and look at the remarkable achievements around.
“If you get extreme sports in a proper manner into the country, there will be many interested to become a part of it. It will help channelize young energy — and any sport is a discipline, which helps young minds develop.”
Extreme sports appear dangerous, but the athletes attest that it is just an exhibition of great skill and talent honed by hours of rigorous effort. It requires dedication and strength of will.
The first step the Asian Extreme Sports Championship… the next we shall wait and watch, you never know what young aspirations and perseverance can achieve.