Young Shihab steals the spotlight
The annual tradition of honouring the sultanate’s sports heroes by the Ministry of Sports Affairs (MoSA) saw a total of 300 achievers from 18 different sports felicitated by H E Sheikh Saad al Saadi, the Minister of Sports Affairs, at the Sheraton Oman Hotel, on Monday. And in a development that augurs well for Oman sports in future, the 2018 ceremony witnessed a good number of youngsters and leading them from the front was Formula 4 racer Shihab al Habsi.
Young Omani poet, Mukhlid al Jabri, sang with gusto before the awards presentation to lay the platform for a night to celebrate the youngsters’ feats.
Shihab, who finished his maiden UAE Formula 4 campaign on podium on Saturday, was honoured for his exploits last season while competing in the French F4 Junior Championship and other races across the region. Dressed in his race suit, Shihab was the cynosure of eyes at the ceremony.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Shihab said, “I am very happy and proud to fly Oman flag across the world and I am confident of achieving many more laurels for the country.”
Besides Shihab, another group of teens that caught the eye were the trio of U15 golfers - Aiman al Busaidi, Al Munther al Hinai and Ahmed al Wahaibi, who won the GCC U15 team title at the Ghala Golf Club in December.
Steven Troup, the national golf coach, said, “It is wonderful for these youngsters to share such a stage. They are the future and the appreciations they received will give them more desire to achieve for more.”
Besides motorsports, the other achievers were from shooting, equestrian, athletics, beach volleyball, tennis, school sports, swimming, paralympic sports, bodybuilding, powerlifting, bowling, cycling, sailing, sepaktakraw, karate and rowing.
Fatma al Nabhani, the Oman tennis star, who recently competed in the WTA Qatar Open and Dubai Open, was felicitated for her role with the national team. “It feels good to be honoured at home,” she said.
There were loud cheers for the paralympic squad when it went up the dais for receiving the citations. Mohammed al Mashaykhi did Oman proud last year when he rose to No 1 in the world at the year-end rankings.
It was the first-ever instance that any Omani athlete has been ranked No 1 in the world and Mashaykhi was listed on top in shot put F32 class.
Later, the sports minister honoured the corporate sector for their support. Omantel received the gold trophy followed by silver to W J Towell Group and the bronze to Occidental. Representatives of the local media houses were also felicitated.