Australian Travis Osborne turned back the clock at the 2019 IWWF World Wakeboard Championships in Abu Dhabi today, launching his bid for a second gold medal 12 years after landing his first.
Osborne, who won the IWWF Masters title for 30-year-olds and over in 2007, has not competed at the top level since. But he was up to his old tricks again as the UAE capital welcomed 150 of the world’s top riders from 31 countries to the Eastern Mangroves Promenade.
Turning on the style in his qualifying heat as the five-day championships, hosted by Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, got under way, he was one of nine athletes to go through to Friday’s semi-finals in the Over 40 Veteran Men class.
Joining him were New Zealander Bryan Simpson, American Dayle Cartwright, Britain’s Mark Goldsmith, Frenchman Daniel Duquesnoy, Italian’s Pierlugi Mazzia and Francesco Starita, German Dominik Lindemann and Thailand’s Bunyalo Jumruang.
In the Under 14 Boys qualifiers, Australian Noah Bollard, American Alex Albin, Italians Frederico Dal Lago and Stefano Comollo, along with Taipei’s Yu-Yeh, all won their heats to go through to Friday’s semi-finals.
Also qualifying were Mexico’s Mateo Franco, Russian Mikhail Doladov, Jair Souza from Brazil, Thailand’s Pisit Jmahattanajatuphat and Japan’s Rito Shikai.
The UAE’s first ever national wakeboarding team is gaining valuable top level experience this week, and brothers Mohamed and Hamed Naser Al Belooshi, along with Ahmed Omeir, will all get another chance to reach the semi-finals in Thursday’s Boys last chance qualifiers.
UAE captain Khaled Subaa and team-mate Omeir Saeed, elder brother of boys’ competitor Ahmed, are both in action in tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Open Men qualifiers as Massimiliano Piffaretti bids for a second gold in recent weeks.
The Italian is aiming to add to his triumph at the last month’s first ever ANOC Worlds Beach Games, as is Sanne Meijer from the Netherlands who is also in action tomorrow in the Open Women qualifiers.
Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club and the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation, the sport’s governing body, have created a superb event venue on the Eastern Mangroves Promenade where the sport’s best are in their element.
The organisers believe the event can give a major boost to wakeboarding in the UAE and establish Abu Dhabi as one of the sport’s leading international destinations.