Promising young athletes from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are being sent to an intensive training camp in Italy with the hope they can be world-beaters by the time of the 2024 Olympic Games.
The 82 youngsters, aged 13 and 14, compete in either track and field athletics, shooting, archery or fencing.
In partnership with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the UAE National Olympic Committee wants to nurture and develop these promising future talents.
They are due to set off for Italy on Sunday (August 3) for three weeks of training.
The archery and athletics squads will be training in Formia along the Mediterranean coast of Lazio, while the shooting and fencing teams will be based at the Julio Aonsta Centre in the Italian capital Rome.
As part of the mission to put the UAE on the global sporting map, the country's National Olympic Committee has formed a group of experts from around the world chaired by 2004 Olympic double-trap shooting gold medallist Shaikh Ahmad Hasher Al Maktoum, the only person from the country to have won an Olympic title.
Other members include Morocco's Los Angeles 1984 Olympic 5,000 metres champion Said Aouita and leading South Korean archery coach Jeong-ho Kim.
"This camp in Italy is just the start," said Shaikh Ahmad
"Each of the specialists will pick up the best athletes, who will undergo further specialised training so that they can peak by the 2024 Games.
"We've made a good start and only time will show us how we are headed."
The UAE sent its largest ever team to an Olympic Games at London 2012, with 26 athletes competing in six sports.
But it left the British capital with no medals.
"We have set a long-term goal of achieving international success, starting with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," said Omar Abdul Rahman of the UAE National Olympic Committee, who is leading the campaign to identify talent in the country.
"This is the first step towards these long-term goals and all efforts will be in place to achieve success in this programme."
He added: "This initiative is as per the strategy laid down by the UAE leaders in keeping with the national strategy encompassed in 'Vision 2021'.
"Our UAE NOC President Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has set the guidelines by roping in some of the best former stars to ensure we achieve our target latest by the 2024 Olympics."
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