Oman made its Olympic debut at the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics, where it was represented by sixteen athletes. Since then, the nation has not succeeded in entering more than eight athletes into a single Olympic Games.
With no medals in its Olympic tally, Oman is sending four athletes to the Rio 2016 Olympics; one has qualified on merit, while the other three were handed wildcard invitations by the International Olympic Committee, according to Al-Bawaba .
An additional tennis player, Fatma A-Nabhani, and a rider, Sultan al Touqi, were shortlisted for a wildcard spot, but they did not make the cut since Oman’s quota allocation had already been fulfilled. Additionally, Rio 2016 will include an Omani referee, Ahmed Al-Balushi, who will officiate at the basketball tournament.
Here’s a closer look at the four Omani 2016 Olympians.
1. Barakat Al-Harthi (Runner)
Harthi qualified to Rio 2016 by hitting the 10.16 second entry mark to the 100 meter race in a gold medal win at the Military World Games in 2015. Last month, he achieved a personal best (10.05 seconds) and broke his own national record, moving closer towards joining the exclusive set of athletes who have broken the 10-second barrier in the 100 meter sprint. His first race at the Rio Olympics will occur on August 13.
This will be his second Olympics, after he partook in London 2012, placing 7th in heat two of the first round with a 10.41 second finish. Harthi has competed in multiple IAAF World Championships, Asian and Arab Games, taking home titles that include the 2010 Asian Games and 2013 Asian Championship bronze medals.
He has chosen to set realistic goals for Rio 2016, “I am not thinking of a medal now as the competition is tough. Initially, I will be fighting for my entry into the semis, that is my first dream,” he told Times of Oman . “When I get into the semis, I have to think of the goal after that. If I think of the medal from now, I might end up nowhere.”
2. Mazoon Al-Alawi (Runner)
Alawi will become the third Omani female to compete in the Olympic 100 meter sprint, after the IOC granted her a wildcard berth. Her personal best timing is 12.04 seconds, versus the 11.32 second qualifying minimum.
The 19-year-old is the youngest among the four Omani Olympians and will run her first Olympic race on August 12. She is joining the seniors at the Olympics after competing in the Youth Olympic Games in 2014, where she ranked 17th and finished in 12.61 seconds.
3. Wadha Al-Balushi (Shooter)
Balushi was awarded a spot at the women’s 10 meter Air Pistol event, taking place on August 7. She has participated in several World Cups and World Championships and brought home an Asian Championship bronze in 2014 for the 40 meter Air Pistol. Balushi will become Oman’s first female Olympic shooter, as Oman has only sent two sportswomen – both sprinters – to the Olympics.
4. Hamed Al-Khatri (Shooter)
Khatri took the second Omani shooting wildcard, booking his spot at the men’s 50 meter Rifle Three Positions event on August 14. He won a 10 meter Air Rifle gold at the 2014 Arab Shooting Championships, a 50 meter Rifle 3 Positions individual bronze and team bronze at the 2011 Pan Arab Games.
“The selection of the two shooters was made on the basis that they fully satisfied the conditions of participation in the Olympic shooting competitions due to the outstanding results they achieved in the past competitions,” stated Oman’s Olympic Committee.