According to UAE Vision 2021, achieving a cohesive society and preserving identity is one of the six pillars of the National Agenda. Well-being, a healthy lifestyle, and participation in physical activity are pillars of creating a healthy nation. KPIs for UAE Vision 2030 measure sport achievement through participation in international competitions and medals at Olympic and Paralympic Games. UAE Authorities have set high expectations for Nation’s involvement in international competitions. National Olympic Committee encouraged the participation of both citizens and residents in international sports competitions. Those who meet international requirements will be able to represent UAE internationally.
One of the most recent registered federations is the Emirates Canoe & Rafting Federation (ECRF). Shortly after its formation, the ECRF joined the International Canoe Federation (ICF). As a result, for the first time, a UAE resident wore the national colors at the ICF World Junior Championship, held in Szeged, Hungary. Balazs Bartfai, a 16-year-old, competed in September against the world’s best junior athletes up to 18.
Balazs was born in Hungary but has lived in UAE since he was four. Despite the lack of canoe sprint history in his new country, there was never any doubt it was a sport he would try. In his own words, “I find both of them are my home, Hungary is my home, and the United Arab Emirates is my home, so both are amazing places to compete.” His father, Krisztian, is a three-time Olympian who won bronze in the K2 1000 at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. To read more about Bartfai’s idea of developing the sport in the UAE, read the ICF blog here.
Just one month later, another historic moment for UAE National Team. ECRF announced the first athletes to compete at the senior international level. Following his debut at the 2022 ICF Junior and Under 23 Canoe Sprint World Championship, Balasz Bartfai was joined by Tiago Oliveira at the 2022 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championship. This year’s WC was held in Portugal, with the 19.5km long downwind course which connects Viana do Castelo to Ofir’s beach in Esposende. You can read more about it here.
UAE has also sent four athletes to International Nile Regatta in Cairo and has registered six applicants for the ICF level three coaching course.
ICF President Thomas Konietzko said: “It is hard to believe the ECRF has been a recognized ICF Federation for less than one year but is already making such important progress. We are really impressed with the passion and the vision this new federation has. I will be visiting the UAE with our new Secretary General, Richard Pettit, next month and will talk about efforts we can make together to ensure canoe sports continue to grow in this important region. It shows how a young federation can work to make fast and positive inroads into developing paddle sports in their region. We congratulate everyone involved with the ECRF.”
HERC’s Strength Department was happy to support ECRF Athletes’ preparation for the abovementioned competitions. Strength and Conditioning preparation is the cornerstone of any sport and athlete. Our S&C coaches ensure athletes will be ready for their most important competitions by applying advanced evidence-based training methods.
An assessment of needs, a fitness screening assessment, rehabilitation, re-entry into the sport, and strength training specific to the sport was all part of the preparation process. In addition, the macrocycle was divided into smaller and more manageable intervals (mesocycles) to manage and coordinate all aspects of training so that athletes were at their peak performance at the most crucial moment of competition.
Even though both World Championship events yielded excellent results, they are only stepping stones to Olympic qualification for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. As part of the ECRF’s Olympic qualification effort, HERC’s Strength Department looks forward to supporting the athletes’ physical/ strength and conditioning preparation.