The most powerful Kuwaiti in the history of sport might be serving a 15-year Olympic ban, but the Gulf country still hopes to make its mark at the Paris Olympics with shotguns, sabres, and a single-handed dinghy.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, the longtime Olympic Council of Asia president and once one of the most influential people in the sporting world, received a lengthy ban in May for breaches of International Olympic Committee (IOC) ethics policies.

The controversial sheikh was also once a major player at soccer’s governing body, FIFA, but his politics did not always work in Kuwait’s favour, and the country’s greatest Olympic moment is not actually credited to the oil-rich emirate.

When Fehaid Aldeehani topped the podium in the men’s double trap shooting at the 2016 Games in Rio, he did so as an “independent Olympic athlete” because Kuwait had been suspended by the IOC.

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The reason for the ban was government interference, the result of attempts by other members of Kuwait’s ruling family to exert control over Sheikh Ahmad’s sporting fiefdoms.

All five Olympic medals won by Kuwaitis have come with the help of a shotgun, and it is again to the traps and skeet range that the country will be looking for medal success in Paris.

Mohamed Al-Daihani will make his Olympics debut at the age of 40 and follow in the footsteps of his father, Nayef, who competed in the skeet at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

After qualifying for the Games by taking third place in skeet at the Asian Championships in January, he paid tribute to Aldeehani and twice Olympic bronze medallist Abdullah Al-Rashidi.

“(Their) achievements are considered a source of pride for Kuwait, as well as an inspiration for all Kuwaiti shooters, and I am one of them,” he told the International Shooting Federation website.

Another shooter, former world champion Khaled Al Mudhaf, booked qualification for the Games by finishing third at the World Championships in Azerbaijan last year.

After the IOC ban was lifted in 2018, Kuwait took 10 athletes to the Tokyo Games in five sports: athletics, karate, rowing, shooting and swimming. Al-Rashidi’s second bronze in skeet was the only medal.

Only two female athletes went to Tokyo, 17 years after sprinter Danah Al-Nasrallah became the first Kuwaiti woman to compete at the Olympics at the Athens Games.

This year there is much excitement surrounding Ameena Shah, who has qualified for the Olympic regatta in Marseille, a first not only for Kuwait but all Gulf countries.

“I am very happy with this historic achievement, it is the first time that Kuwait has qualified for the Olympics in the sport of sailing,” Shah, who will compete in the single-handed dinghy, told the Kuwait News Agency.

“I am proud to be the first Kuwaiti woman and the first Gulf woman to achieve this.”

Yousef Al-Shamlan also made a bit of history for the country when he qualified for the men’s sabre in March. Kuwaitis have competed in fencing through quotas at the Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Games but 25-year-old Al-Shamlan is the first to qualify by right.

“This is a huge moment for Kuwaiti fencing,” said Hamad Al-Awadhi of the Kuwaiti Fencing Federation.