DOHA: A rapturous crowd at the Hamad Aquatic Centre (HAC) enjoyed the enthralling spectacle of the world’s greatest swimmers in competitive action in Doha during the first day of the FINA airweave Swimming World Cup with Hungary’s Iron lady Katinka Hosszu, Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson and Brazil’s Felipe Lima amongst the star performers.
The opening night was fast and furious with 18 finals featuring a number of Olympic medallists, world-record holders and world-champions with Qatar further enhancing its reputation as a leading host and force within international sport, especially in swimming.
Speaking following the first day, President of the Qatar Swimming Association and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Khaleel Al Jabir, said:
“This year’s FINA airweave Swimming World Cup is already a huge success. I am very proud that 2016 marks the fifth consecutive year Doha has welcomed the swimming elite from every corner of the world. We have come a long way, yet each year the event continues to get bigger and better.
“In an Olympic year with memories of Rio still fresh this occasion has been made even more special with a record number of 24 Qataris swimmers racing in the championship. This proves the growing interest in the sport and the legacy this championship has created. It really has been an inspiration to our young people and the future is bright for swimming.”
In the women’s competition day one witnessed everything with wins by the experienced Hosszu, who recorded 4 victories across the 200m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 200m individual medley and 800m freestyle. While at the other end of the spectrum 11 year old Alzain Tareq of Bahrain made a remarkable debut as she starts out on a long journey in a quest for an Olympic medal in Tokyo 2020.
Another young swimmer taking advantage of the chance to gain valuable experience in the pool against the fastest swimmers in the world, Qatar’s 15 year old Abdelrahman Mohamed performed admirably in front of home fans.
Commenting on the opportunity to compete Mohamed said: “My feeling right now is awesome. Swimming in this World Cup opened great opportunities like meeting World Champions and learning from them. This is my first World Cup in Qatar so I’m happy.”
Speaking after another dominant day in the pool and victory in the 800m freestyle final Hoszzu said: “It’s always a pleasure to be here. I have so many great memories here and I have a lot of fans in Doha, which is always a great sign.”
In the men’s competition, Russian Vladimir Morozov maintained his leading position thanks to a win in the Men’s 100m Individual Medley and 100m freestyle. For Le Clos his day one highlight was a solitary victory in the Men’s 50m Butterfly.
After finishing his events Morozov said: It’s my third event. It’s a good event. I’m getting pretty tired but I’m glad I’m getting the job done.’
Rival and second placed in the rankings, Rio two-time silver medalist Le Clos said: “I’m happy to be here in Doha. I always give it everything, I never hold back. It was a good time for me so we will see what comes next.”
Saturday’s swimming spectacle also saw Japan’s Daiya Seto snag two gold medals in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley while Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina won 1 gold in the 200m backstroke and 1 silver medal in the 50m backstroke. Crowd favourite Jeanette Ottesen from Denmark and Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson won one gold each in the 100m butterfly and 100m breaststroke respectively.
Commenting on after her performances in HAC Atkinson said: “The finals were not bad. I’m trying to branch out which is difficult. It’s always a good time here in Doha.”
Following her gold medal win Ottesen said: “This is the fastest of the second cluster so far. My aim is to have fun and get some medals definitely.”
The exhilarating action returns tomorrow for the second and final day of the FINA airweave Swimming World Cup at 10 am on Sunday 9th October where rivalries will be renewed in front of another capacity crowd at the Hamad Aquatic Centre.
Tickets are available through Qtickets.com for just 20 QAR, and you can keep up to date with all the action at www.qatarswimming.com, and on social media through @SWCDoha on Twitter, and search for FINA airweave Swimming World Cup Doha on Facebook. - Press release