THE year that went by brought many cheers to Qatar on and off the field. True to the Olympic motto, our competitors went faster, higher and stronger in various disciplines. We also successfully hosted an array of big events to make the nation further proud.
All those achievements gave us a sense of pride. High jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim stood out by bagging a silver at Rio, Qatar’s best-ever performance at the Olympics. The way he improved on his bronze-medal show in London four years ago gives wings to our dream of a first gold at the showpiece event, at Tokyo in 2020.
We made our Rio campaign more memorable when Paralympians Sarah Masoud and Abdulrahman Abdelqader both clinched silver medals.
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah brought more laurels to the country by winning the Middle East Rally Championship and FIA Cross-Country World Cup besides finishing runner-up at the demanding Dakar. There were many other achievements for us across several disciplines.
We didn’t lag behind on the organisational front either, with the Cycling Road World Championships underlining Qatar’s status. A countless number of officials have testified the country’s abilities.
Moving on, all eyes are on the national football team as it seeks a maiden World Cup berth, at Russia in 2018. We’ve a team capable of giving it a try even though the chances of qualification are remote. But more than the results, a strong performance will augur well for the 2022 hosts.
By finishing fourth at the Asian Under-23 Championship at home last January, we proved we’ve many players with the potential to be a part of the home side in 2022. It’s crucial that they’re shaped up in the best way. Six years is too short for serious preparations, which should’ve started right after winning the bid in 2010. Playing at the Gulf Cup at home late next year should help them improve further.
I’m sure a lot of thoughts have gone into the recent restructuring of many national federations by the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), ably headed by HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani. QOC Secretary General Dr Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari’s takeover of the Qatar Athletics Federation too is a wise move as we target more glory on the track and field and get ready to host the 2019 Worlds.
We must also set our priorities for the Tokyo Olympics soon. Let the New Year bring more accolades to Qatar. I wish our sportspersons all success.