The Sultanate of Oman has competed in every Olympics since 1984, but is still yet to win a medal. No big deal since 72 countries can say the same, but now Oman is getting serious. And like the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, put all your resources into a single sport.
That sport is apparently sailing.
More than half of Oman’s border runs along the Arabian sea, so the ministry of tourism and Oman Sail have developed a youth program aimed at teaching kids teamwork, leadership, and confidence through sailing. It’s also an unabashed investment in winning the country its first Olympic medal.
“We are targeting the youth to get involved with sport because of the positive values associated with sportsmanship,” says Oman Sail manager Rashid al Kindi. “Achieving success in sport helps drive national pride and self worth. Our message to parents is let your children come sailing because it is good for them.”
The program, which includes intense clinics taught by some of the worlds best sailors, hopes to draw around 70,000 Omani kids to sailing by 2020 with the goal of winning a medal in 2024. And while the clinics will emphasize fun, safety, and general good vibes, the best kids will be identified through a strict selection process to start five person national youth teams beginning as soon as next year.
Those teams will hope to compete in the the 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympics, the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships (which Oman has bid to host in 2016), and eventually the Olympics. Add up all the investment, time, effort, and experience and we wouldn’t be shocked to hear the Omani national anthem when the 2024 Games finally come around.