Winning is a habit for Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Winning is a habit for Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah

Doha, Qatar: The world of sports is littered with tales of exceptionally gifted men and women trying their hand at different disciplines and making their mark in everything they do, in a way we mere mortals can only dream of. There is nothing unusual about that because they are hugely talented and they need new challenges to keep them going.

Usain Bolt, despite shattering all the world records in sprint events, wasn’t satisfied and wanted to try football while legendary New Zealand rower Hamish Bond, an Olympic gold medallist, is also a Commonwealth champion in cycling. Rebecca Romero too practised rowing and cycling, and perfected both as well, winning an Olympic gold in cycling and silver in rowing.

Don Bradman, Viv Richards, Lance Armstrong, Alex Zanardi, Fred Perry, John Surtees... the list of stars who simply weren't happy with success in just one discipline is endless.

Among these legends, Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah has carved a niche for himself.

Qatar's champion rally driver, with three Dakar triumphs and countless others victories, is also a bronze medal winner in shooting. But it is the extreme difference in the very nature of the two sports, and the casual manner in which he switches from one to other, just as easily as he shifts gears of his rally car Toyota Hilux, is what makes his exploits truly special.

And last week he again showed his prowess by cruising to a sixth victory in the Manateq-Qatar Cross Country Rally, the opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

And the best thing about the 48-year-old, who is as unassuming as he is affable, is that he makes winning look ridiculously easy.

"It was not difficult to win but the terrain was not easy. But we led from the beginning till the end," said Al Attiyah, after his triumph in Qatar.

"In the last stage, I just wanted to finish the rally and not make my mistakes, since we had a healthy lead. I know the desert terrain here in Qatar, and that certainly helped and gave me an advantage over other drives."

For someone who has conquered the terrains and sand dunes of South America, winning in Qatar, his own backyard despite its rugged nature, was going to be not that difficult and Al Attiyah admitted as much.

"For me physically it was ok, not too demanding.

"We were really good and clever throughout the really, despite suffering three punctures. Always good to win in Qatar and I am happy that we are off to a good start in the championship. Now we are hoping to do well in Abu Dhabi next." he said.

Four-time champion Al Attiyah lost his world title to Jakub Przygonski last season but he looks determined to win it back.

"Last year the car was in development but this year have hit the stride and everything looks positive for the rest of the year.

This victory is the first step and it will motivation to complete the journey and to regain the World Championship."

But right now he has something else in his focus. And that’s his other passion.

Al Attiyah will represent Qatar in skeet event at the ongoing Qatar Open Shooting Championship at Losail Shooting range.

With little or no time for practice, Al Attiyah could have a tough time shooting down the clay pigeons, 

But with him, you never know, especially that he has said he wanted to participate in the 2020 Japan Olympics. Though he said it was also because his Rally team Toyota is from Japan, when Al Attiyah participates, he usually makes his mark.

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