In a historic landmark decision, Oman Sail revealed the name of the young sailor who will represent the Sultanate at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), in Argentina.
Mohammed Nabil Al Balushi will become the first ever sailor from Oman Sail to represent his country at the Youth Olympic Games, when he races in the Men's Windsurfing Techno 293+ class at the event in Buenos Aires.
The announcement - celebrated at Oman Sail's headquarters in Al Mouj Muscat - is a milestone for the organization as it approaches its 10th anniversary, marking a significant moment in its long-standing mission to secure qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Al Balushi earned his place in Argentina following an in-depth selection process which this year saw youth squad sailors compete at their first ever Asian Windsurfing Championships, and then take top 10 finishes at the Techno 293+ European Championships in Sicily.
The final decision was made from a shortlist of three youth squad teammates - Omar Al Qartoubi, Mohammed Al Balushi and Ali Al Omrani - following an international regatta in Poland, three training camps in Masirah, and the Techno 293+ World Championships in Latvia earlier this month.
"Mohammed's selection for the Youth Olympic Games is the result of a huge amount of dedication and hard work by the team," said David Graham, Oman Sail CEO. "Every member of the youth squad has contributed to this great achievement, and I would also like to pay tribute to the dedication and expertise of the coaches and support staff who have all made this possible."
"It is a historic moment for both Oman Sail and the whole country. Almost ten years ago Oman Sail was established with the goals of reasserting the Sultanate's maritime heritage and sending a sailor to the Olympic Games, and this is a significant milestone on that journey that we can all be proud of."
It All Started in 2015
Oman Sail was set up in 2008. The youth windsurf program started at the Mussanah sailing center in 2015.
A national windsurf team took part in its first international event in 2016, followed by appearances at the Youth World and European Championships in 2017.
Born in 2003, Mohammed Al Balushi joined the youth windsurf program in 2015. On his journey to selection, he took part in some international championships such as the World Championships and European Championships in 2017 and European Championships and Asian Championships this year.
At the recent World Championships in Latvia, he placed 19th in a 35-strong fleet of competitive international sailors.
Oman earned its spot at the YOG when it was awarded a special "universality place" in recognition of the youth team's impressive performances at international YOG qualifying regattas since 2016.
Announced by World Sailing, universality places are awarded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only to athletes meeting the required technical and eligibility criteria.
Under Olympic rules, countries are limited to a single place in each sailing category. The final selection decision for Buenos Aires was made by Oman Sail youth squad coaches and managers - including national windsurfing coach, Sultan Al Balushi.