9/7/2016 10:20:44 AM

‘We need to be very clever on naturalisation’

‘We need to be very clever on naturalisation’

THE Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) officials may be basking in the reflected glory of high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim’s silver medal at the Rio Olympics, but some veteran athletes feel that unless corrective steps are taken, the future prospects look bleak.

”I foresee a bleak future, even at the Asian level. Tell me how many medal prospects we’ve for the 2018 Asian Games? Mutaz is a cinch, and may be one or two more, that’s it,” lamented a former athlete who wished to remain anonymous.

“We need to relook at the way we naturalise athletes. I’m not against naturalisation. Nowadays, it’s a universal practice. Even the United States do it. But we’ve to be clever and smart in our selection of athletes,” he added.

“We’ve to choose those athletes who’ve realistic chances of winning a medal. For example, look at Bahrain. They naturalised Ruth Jebet and Eunice Kirwa. Ruth won gold in 3,000M and Eunice silver in marathon, both in the women’s field,” said Qatar’s another former Asian champion.

“I’m afraid we’ll be overtaken by countries like Bahrain even at the continental level. Look, 39 athletes from Bahrain qualified for Rio. True, a majority of them are naturalised. Apart from the two medal winners, quite a few of them achieved Asian-best timings and efforts and come the next Asian Games they’ll have a bagful of medals. And their annual budget is far much lesser than that of ours.

“And look at us. Only six athletes qualified for the Olympics. We aren’t planning well for future. Some of our naturalised athletes may be good at the continental level, but certainly not at the Olympics
or World Championships,” he pointed out. DSP

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