Adil Khalid refusing to give up on Olympic goal
Just the thought of finishing the Volvo Ocean Race, one of the world's most gruelling sporting events, would prompt several weeks of R&R for most of us, writes Marvin France.
But not Adil Khalid, who if he had his way would be setting sail straight to London to fly the flag for the UAE at the summer showpiece.
The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) star, who last weekend made history by becoming the first Gulf National to complete the ‘Everest of Sailing’, was hoping to receive a wildcard to compete in the Laser class at the Olympic Games, which kick off on July 27.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old, that request was denied by the International Sailing Federation, its UAE equivalent confirmed. However, undeterred, Khalid is clinging on to the faint chance he may yet go, continuing his training in the hope a late withdrawal from another country opens the door.
“If someone drops out I may be put in. I’ll just wait, anything can happen. I will carry on training, of course,” he told 7DAYS. “Technically, I’m prepared. Fitness, maybe I’m a little weak. But I’ve been training now for the last month, going to the gym and building myself up.”
They say you need a few screws loose to take on the 39,000-nautical mile marathon of the seas, but this is taking it to the extreme.
Surely, after spending the best part of nine months trapped on a 70-foot yacht battling the worst Mother Nature can dish up, the last thing you’d want is to train for an event you have little chance of attending.
Yet when posed that question, the confident mariner simply smiled as if he’s only heading off on a leisurely sail on the Arabian Gulf.
“What are you going to do at home?”
Besides, it is the Olympics, and having been the first Emirati sailor to compete at a Games in 2008 he’s clearly caught the bug. Despite solo sailing taking a back seat in recent times, Khalid’s adamant he’d be much better prepared this time round thanks to his Ocean Race experience.
“When you do a Volvo you learn all the techniques about the weather, about the currents,” he added. “When you jump to the laser it’s going to be much easier. I’ve sailed with the best people around the world and you learn a lot of things.”
One person who can certainly attest to that is ADOR skipper Ian Walker. Walker conceded he had his doubts when Khalid was selected ahead of more than 120 Emirati hopefuls to take part in his first open water campaign. But after witnessing his young crewmember come of age during the epic voyage, Walker is confident Khalid can succeed at anything he puts his mind to.
“We no longer think of him as a newcomer to the race, he’s just part of the team and that’s no easy feat to achieve,” the Briton said.
And even if Khalid’s training comes to nothing he still has his eye on Rio in four years’ time. And he’s planning on taking some friends.
“I’d love to help more sailors from UAE qualify,” he said. “It’s my dream to build up a team, train them and make them qualify for 2016.”