Kuwaiti marksman al-Deehani wins first Arab gold at Rio

Kuwaiti marksman al-Deehani wins first Arab gold at Rio
Kuwaiti marksman Fehaid al-Deehani made Olympic history for being the first 'independent athlete' to win gold in the men's double trap, after Kuwait's suspension from the Games.
2 min read
11 August, 2016
Deehani had refused to carry any flag other than Kuwait's [AFP]

Kuwait's Fehaid al-Deehani, competing at the Rio Games as an independent athlete, won the men's double trap gold on Wednesday.

Deehani, a bronze medallist in Sydney and London, was forced to take part in Rio as a neutral athlete due to Kuwait's suspension by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over government interference in sport.

The army officer, at his sixth Games, is one of nine competing as an Independent Olympic Athlete (IOA).

The winner of Kuwait's only two previous Olympic medals is the first independent to win gold at an Olympics.

"In the final God gave me the will to win. This is my day - it means everything (to Kuwait)," said al-Deehani, who had rejected an offer from the IOC to carry the neutral flag at last Friday's opening ceremony.

He told Kuwaiti media at the time: "I am a military man and I will only carry the Kuwait flag. I cannot carry the IOC flag."

The IOC and FIFA have now suspended Kuwait three times since 2007 over government interference.

The latest dispute has caused anguish across the Gulf state, pitting the government even against global sporting powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, a member of the IOC and FIFA, who is from Kuwait.

The government has launched court action in Switzerland seeking $1 billion in damages from the IOC over its suspension, which Youth and Information Minister Sheikh Salman al-Humoud al-Sabah has called "unjustifiable".

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has already ruled against the government, and a UN envoy's efforts to mediate have also come to nothing.

The Kuwaiti parliament amended its controversial sports law in June, but the government still has the power to dissolve sports associations and federations.