Abdullah Al-Rashidi – Skeet Shooter

We first met Abdullah Al-Rashidi back in 2009. Already a four-time Olympian through his participations at Atlanta (’96), Sydney (2000), Athens (’04) and Beijing (’08), he’s gone on to compete in London (’12) and now Rio (’16). It’s easy to reflect that throughout his career Abdullah has competed in more Olympic cities than most people have been on vacation to. That’s not to say he regards these quad-annual forays with anything less than the utmost seriousness.

Rio 2016 proved to be the most successful of Olympics for Abdullah coming home, as he did, with a bronze medal in skeet shooting. For the uninitiated, ‘skeet’ is shooting sport in which a clay target is thrown from a trap to simulate the flight of a bird. The targets are flung in to the air in a generally random arc, requiring great levels of concentration, quick thinking and precision shooting by the competitor. Abdullah is a three-time world champion and has six gold and three silvers from the Asian Shooting Championships to his name – his credentials are strong.

Easy-going and eminently likeable, Abdullah became one of the most popular characters during Rio’s shooting days. Competing under the flag of the IOC (due to Kuwait’s temporary suspension), and with no ‘official’ national uniform in his possession, he turned up on the day of the finals wearing the familiar red jersey of England’s Arsenal Football Club under his shooting vest – a club whose nickname is coincidentally ‘The Gunners’. Making such a choice in football-mad Brazil was a positive move, although Abdullah insists it was unintentional. When asked by Britain’s BBC broadcaster the significance of this choice he replied, straightforwardly, “I don’t know. I saw it and just bought it”.

Taken to their hearts by Brazilians watching from the stands, they bestowed on him the nickname of ‘Bigode’ – Portuguese for ‘moustache’. Each time he prepared for a shot, chants of ‘Bigode’ resonated around the arena. Greatly amused, “I feel like I am from Brazil and not Kuwait. Thank you Brazil!” said a grateful Abdullah.

He first had to get through a sudden death shoot off to meet Ukrainian former gold medallist Mikola Milchev in the bronze medal match. He defeated Denmark’s Jesper Hansen and Sweden’s Stefan Nilsson in the second round.

In the bronze medal match Milchev missed early, and could never come back. Al-Rashidi scored a perfect 16 for 16, and fell to his knees as the crowd went wild showing their appreciation. Following his bronze medal winning performance, and in common with compatriot Fehaid Al-Deehani, who won gold in the men’s double trap event at Rio, he was disheartened not to see Kuwait’s flag run up the pole.

“Anybody who doesn’t see his flag, he dies,” he said. “I need my flag; this is better for me. But what can I do?” Adding, “Maybe after a gold and bronze we can compete again with our flag, inshallah”.

Simon Balsom

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This