Dubai: Tunisian swimming sensation Oussama Mellouli will be one of the star attractions when the Fina Swimming World Cup comes to Dubai on October 17 and 18, organisers confirmed on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old Tunisian has established himself as one of the most remarkable long distance swimmers in history and, after spectacular performances in the Fina World Championships (25-metre) in Dubai in 2010, the local crowds will be delighted to see him return to the Hamdan Sports Complex pool.
Mellouli thrilled the crowds when he won the 1,500m World Championships (25m) crown in Dubai after taking silver in the 400m IM and bronze in the 200m and 400m freestyle.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Oussama Mellouli back to Dubai, we all remember his remarkable victory here in 2010 and it is fantastic for us to see such a swimming legend in action again,” said Ahmad Al Falasi, President of the UAE Swimming Association and Chairman of the Organising Committee. “We are very excited that so many world class swimmers will be competing here in the World Cup and we encourage all sports fans to come out and watch the best swimmers in the world in action.”
Dr Ahmad Sa’ad Al Sharif, General Secretary of Dubai Sports Council, added: “The standard of competition in the Dubai leg of the World Cup this year is amazing. With a line-up that includes multiple Olympic and world champions like Chad Le Clos, Katinka Hosszu and Mireia Belmonte Garcia, as well as Oussama Mellouli, we are guaranteed some incredible performances in the pool.”
After his 2010 successes in Dubai, Mellouli made history at the 2012 Olympic Games when he took gold in the 10km open water marathon and bronze in the 1500m, making him the first swimmer to take Olympic medals in both the pool and open water.
Following the London Games, Mellouli considered retirement, saying: “I took time after the Olympics, I was out of the water for six or seven months. I had fun, I did whatever I wanted, I gained some weight. I realised that I missed my training so we got back in the pool to see what we could do in Barcelona.”
The break obviously served him well as he took gold in the 5km open water race at the 2013 Fina World Championships in Barcelona, becoming the only swimmer to have won gold in both the pool and open water at Olympics and world championships.
The Dubai competition is the fourth event of the eight-leg World Cup series, which began in August in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, before moving on to Berlin, Germany. The Moscow leg will be held on October 12 and 13 before the Dubai round. The competition will then move to on to Doha in Qatar, Singapore and Tokyo, Japan, with the final event in China’s Beijing on November 13 and 14.
The World Cup sees men and women from more than 30 countries vying for prize money in each of the 36 events.
The Dubai leg will begin at 10am on Thursday, October 17, with heats from 10am and finals from 6pm on both days. Tickets to the event will be available at the door at the Hamdan Sports Complex, which is located on Emirates Road (E611).