Though not having qualified in the Olympics the normal way, their potential for success is what gives them the Olympic ticket.
In last month’s issue with PowerUp Magazine, Bahrain Olympic Committee Secretary-General said that “Wild Card” selection is usually made by the sports federations in accordance to the invitations sent by the international federations. This time the invitations included two for swimming and one each for the shooting and wrestling federations”.
The advantages of a wildcard format is that it allows a second (or third placer) athlete to win a major title in the Olympics even if they are non-division winners.
There have been instances when a competitor who gained entry by wild card succeeds in winning a medal or the championship
There have been instances when a competitor who gained entry by wild card succeeds in winning a medal or the championship Kye Sun Hui won gold in judo at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Ding Junhui won the 2005 China Open Snooker championship, Goran Ivanisevic won the 2001 Wimbledon Championships and Kim Clijsters won the 2009 US Open while Lin Dan won the 2013 BWF World Championships. Closer to home, Samira Al Bitar, who was also a wild card selection, has been a two-time Olympic swimmer. She made her Olympic debut in 2004 in Athens where she
swam the 50m freestyle, and then also swam in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, where she won her heat in the 50m freestyle though her score was insufficient to advance to the next round.
This year, Bahrain has three wildcard athletes in the league.
Farhan Saleh Farhan has already made a name for himself in local swimming competitions starring in the 22nd GCC Water Games claiming two silver medals in the under-17 100m and 200m freestyle events, setting two national records along the way. Farhan also does well in team sports capturing the team relay bronze at the Second GCC Games in Dammam. No surprise that Farhan is already in the Bahrain National Swimming team adding another accolade to his accomplishments by finishing first in the men’s 15-30 years category at the Fifth National Day International Swimming Championship.
Fatema Abdulmohsen Almahmeed was already swimming at the FINA World Championships just one year after she started swimming. The girl “who has never thought of making it there”, has undoubtedly had to accommodate an even bigger worldview of sports as she is Rio-bound this month.
Mahmood Ali Haji will try to raise the profile of the shooting sport as he fires his shots in the Olympics.