Almaktoum’s Historic Olympic Gold In Athens 2004 | The Olympics On The Record

Almaktoum’s Historic Olympic Gold In Athens 2004 | The Olympics On The Record


One of the greatest things
about the Olympic Games is that everyone starts
on a level playing field. Whether you come from
poverty or privilege, the important thing is taking
part…and winning, of course. Several members of the royal family have subscribed to the Olympic motto
of “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” For the world’s kings and queens,
princes and princesses, this has mostly involved giving out
medals to the fastest, the highest and the strongest. But several members of
the international nobility have actually taken part themselves,
as Olympians, as athletes. At Stockholm 1912, there were two princes and
a grand duke competing in events. At Amsterdam 1928,
Crown Prince Olav of Norway, later King Olav of Norway,
won gold for sailing. His son, Prince Harald,
had his own Olympic adventure. Also a competitive sailor,
he carried his country’s flag at the opening ceremony of
the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Albert, Prince of Monaco
took part in the bobsleigh at five Olympic Winter Games. Princess Anne represented
Great Britain in the eventing competition
at Montreal 1976. She didn’t win a medal, but
36 years later, did a superb job of awarding a silver medal
to her daughter, Zara Phillips. Which brings us to Ahmad Al Maktoum,
who competed in trap shooting – that’s shooting clay pigeons
with a shotgun – at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. His full name is Sheikh Ahmad bin
Mohammad bin Hasher Al Maktoum. The Al Maktoum family is the ruling
family of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven that comprise
the United Arab Emirates. Dubai may be famed for
the spectacular Burj Khalifa and the Palm Island complex, but it has never been associated
with Olympic glory. The Emirates only united into
a federation of states in 1971, and they didn’t enter
the Olympics until 1984, so when Al Maktoum turned up
to the Sydney Olympic Games, he was only viewed
as a symbolic royal rather than a serious
contender for medals. He had only taken up trap shooting
in 1998, at the age of 34, and Al Maktoum
did not shine in his event against the world’s
finest sharp shooters. He came 23rd in the trap,
and 18th in the double trap. It was not a successful campaign, but Al Maktoum liked his new title,
Olympian, and decided to make something of it
because what he really wanted was something you cannot inherit –
an Olympic gold medal. He set to work with a passion to master the technique
of trap shooting. He had grown up as a hunter, getting his first shotgun
at the age of four. There was little he didn’t know
about guns and shooting and Al Maktoum was willing
to put in the hours. So to Athens for
the 2004 Olympic Games. In the single trap, Al Maktoum
scored perfect rounds in his first two outings. He sailed through the qualifying
with a score of 121… ..and was well placed
going into the final, only three points behind the leader. Then things didn’t go quite right. A couple of missed shots
when the pressure was on and the chance of a first medal for
the UAE slipped through his fingers. He ended up in agonizing fourth, missing out on bronze
by a single target. The UAE was still waiting
for its first Olympic medal. That left the double trap. The double trap is maybe the
greatest test of sharp-shooting, requiring accuracy,
composure and instant reactions. The single trap focuses
on just one target, flying into the air at about 140kph. Notice how they don’t aim
at the target, but where they think the target
is going to be. The double trap requires two shots
in about one second. The switch from target to target is
an extraordinary test of technique. Ever played a shooting game? Then you’ll know two shots
in a second is pretty fast. Al Maktoum had always seen himself
more of a double trap specialist. In qualifying, he was near perfect, matching the Olympic record
with a score of 144. He missed only six of
the 150 clay discs. Al Maktoum’s closest challenger
was a further six behind going into the final. He kept his cool,
a key skill for a trap shooter, hitting more targets than
anyone else in the final. His score of 45,
from a maximum of 50, meant that he had tied
the Olympic record for scoring in the double trap. An emphatic victory
for Al Maktoum… ..and a first gold medal
for the United Arab Emirates. That’s put them on the map. Al Maktoum went on to become
world champion in 2005. He retired from competition in 2009, but didn’t sever his ties
with the sport. He later teamed up with a promising
young British trap shooter named Peter Wilson. Al Maktoum was impressed
with the young man and agreed to help him
with his training. What’s more,
he would do it for free. It’s like Star Wars – he’s his Yoda. Hmm. A good student he is. A gold medallist he will become.
Hmm. Hm. Hm. By 2012, that training paid off. Wilson started well. As pressure told on Wilson,
so it told on everyone else. Vasily Mosin missed
an important shot and suddenly all Wilson
needed was a hit. I didn’t do this
for any other reason, other than to win Olympic gold. The world records, the World Cups – nothing was more important
than the Olympic Games. This was the absolute pinnacle,
and then to come here, to London, I mean, and do it – it’s just amazing, I suppose,
I don’t know how else to put it. So now Ahmad Al Maktoum
has further titles – Olympic gold medallist,
world champion and now “coach”.

33 Comments

  1. You made a mistake in 00:53, this is not Crown Prince of Norway, but he is Constantine, former King of Greece. Then Crown Prince, he won gold medal in sailing, in Rome 1960.

  2. Impressive. He didn't want to settle for titles he can inherit. He wanted to earn a title – the hard way. His story embodies the Olympic spirit.

  3. All good for him, congratulations on the hard work, but by 6:13 I feel like this video has ALL it needs for John Oliver to take on.

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