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Bahrain gear up for Games

BAHRAIN'S preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games continued yesterday, with the national administrative delegates ironing out team details with local organisers.

Bahrain team officials Abdulrahman Askar, Lounes Madene and Abbas Marzooq held several meetings with Chinese official Li Xie, who has personally been placed in charge of the kingdom's delegates at the Games.

"Ms Xie has been helping us prepare for our participation in the Olympics for the past 18 months," said Madene, who is also the Bahrain Athletics Association technical manager.

Askar and Madene also discussed the plans of the national team with their three official Chinese guides, who are dedicated solely to the Bahraini delegation for the Olympics. They included fluent English and Arabic speakers Sun La and Li Haizhou, as well as Arabic speaker Guan Yi.

The Bahrain squad administrators also continued to ready the national team members' residence at the Athletes' Village in Beijing. They have been at the Chinese capital since Tuesday, and along with their other duties, have been distributing booklets about the kingdom among the other Olympic participants who have already reached the Games venue.

The majority of Bahrain's delegation will be traveling to Beijing on August 4. The Games are scheduled to officially get underway with the opening ceremony on August 8. Asia's leading sprinter Ruqaya Al Ghasra has been selected as the kingdom's flag-bearer for the countries' parade, set to take place during the opening festivities.

Ruqaya is currently in Bahrain for her final preparations for the Olympics. She is set to participate in her second Olympiad, having taken part in Athens in 2004. She is one of a record 15 Bahraini athletes competing at the Games, and a top candidate to win Bahrain's first-ever Olympic medal, along with fellow track stars reigning world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal, former double world champion Rashid Ramzi, and fellow Asian leading athletes Youssef Saad Kamel and Tareq Mubarak Taher.

Apart from athletics, Bahrain is also taking part in swimming and shooting. Youngsters Sameera Al Bitar and Omar Yousef Jassim are the swimmers selected to compete, while veteran Salman Zaman has been chosen as the lone shooter for the nationals.



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