Waheed Abdulridha is Iraq’s designated flag-bearer for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, reports beIN Sports .
He will thus carry the Iraqi flag at the opening ceremony on Aug. 5, leading the Iraqi delegation that also includes 22 football players, a weightlifter, a judoka, a rower and a swimmer.
Abdulridha qualified for the 75 kilogram middleweight boxing event at Rio 2016 after winning bronze at the AIBA 2016 Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament in June. Though Iraqi boxers have been competing at the Olympics since Rome 1960, Abdulridha will be the first to represent Iraq in the middleweight division.
Iraq’s highest ranked male boxer is the world's 31st in his weight class. His achievements include two Asian Confederation Boxing Championship bronze medals, a 2015 Doha International Tournament silver, two Arab Championship silvers and five Iraqi National Championship golds.
Iraq has also qualified Hussein Al-Aameri to the men’s 81 kilogram category at Rio’s judo tournament, Mohammed Jasim Al-Khafaji to the single sculls rowing event and Salwan Jasim Abbood to the 105 kilogram weightlifting division.
Additionally, Iraq’s female weightlifters have earned a spot at the 2016 Olympics, but the National Olympic Committee chose to keep it vacant, allowing the deadline for allocation to pass without selecting a female weightlifter.
Iraq will be represented at the swimming event in Rio as well, due to Bakr Al-Dulaimi's universality invitation to the 200 meter freestyle race. His 1:56.23 minute finish is less than 0.05 seconds slower than the qualifying B standard . While Dulaimi's name is listed on the official list of swimmers headed to Rio 2016, the Iraqi NOC had allegedly refused to send any athlete to Rio under the wildcard system.
The 2016 Iraqi Olympians are eyeing their first Olympic medal since Abdulwahid Aziz’s weightlifting bronze in 1960. The Iraqi community is especially looking forward to watching its football team, which claimed the third – and last – Asian ticket to the 2016 Olympic football tournament.