Qatar are fielding 12 competitors, an ideal mix of youth and experience. Doha Stadium Plus takes a look at them.
Motaz Essa Barsham
Event: High jump
Motaz is the one of the best athletes in the country at present. The Guangzhou Asian Games champion (2.27M) and Asian indoor record holder (2.37) first rose to prominence by winning gold (2.30M) at the ’10 IAAF Junior Worlds in Moncton, Canada.
But he is yet to prove his prowess outside Asia. He finished seventh at the IAAF Worlds in Daegu, South Korea, last year (2.32) and was unimpressive at the Istanbul Indoor Worlds in February as well, finishing ninth (2.28). He failed to clear 2.30M at the Monaco Diamond League, the last competition before the London Olympics.
PROSPECTS: He has great potential and can reach the final. However, considering recent form, winning a medal will be difficult.
A product of the Qatar Association of Athletics Federation’s (QAAF) Middle and Long Distance School, Hamza will be the country’s third-youngest competitor at the quadrennial Games. The recent gold-medal performance (3:39.05) at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, will boost his confidence.
He had set a new world youth best time (3:33.69) at the Doha Diamond League, before claiming silver in 1,000M, Qatar’s first medal, at the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore. Hamza qualified for London with an ‘A’ standard time of 3:34.50, en route to silver at the Doha Arab Games.
PROSPECTS: Great things are expected from him in the future. But a semifinal appearance at London will be considered as a good achievement.
Musaab qualified with a gold-medal performance (1:45.92) at the Doha Arab Games in December. It gained him a ‘B’ standard entry.The Guangzhou Asian Games bronze medallist set a new personal best of 1:45.19 at the Doha Diamond League in May. At the Istanbul Indoor Worlds, he could finish only sixth in the semifinal.
PROSPECTS: Entering the final will be a big achievement for him.
Mohammed Abdul Bakheet
Bakheet, known as ‘the human train’ for his strength and fighting spirit in marathon events, is gradually emerging from the shadows of Mubarak Hassan Shami.He made it to London with an ‘A’ standard time of 2hr, 12min and 14sec at the Dubai Marathon in January, finishing eighth.He showed immense potential when he started off in ’06, winning the 10,000M at the Asian Junior Championship. However, not many titles have come his way since then.
PROSPECTS: He is one of the older Qatari runners. He may not be expected to feature in the medal bracket.
Noor Al Malki
Whatever result Noor achieves on the track will be of academic interest because she will make history as Qatar’s first woman track and field athlete at the Olympics. She set a personal-best mark of 12.70sec at the Doha Diamond League in May. Her best achievement to date came when she partnered Nada Nabil, Fatimah Mudahir and Reyma Allen Thomas to win 4x100M relay bronze at the Doha Arab Games. She also won 200M gold and 100M silver at the West Asian Junior Championships in Beirut, Lebanon, earlier this year.
PROSPECTS: A representative of Qatar’s changing attitude towards women’s sports, her mere presence will do a world of good for the country.
Bahiya Mansour Al Hamad
Events: 10M air rifle, 50M three position shooting
Bahiya will proudly carry Qatar’s flag at the London Olympics, just as she did at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics.The qualification for London is yet another feather in her cap. She had finished only sixth at the Asian qualification event in Doha, but replaced 50M air pistol winner Oleg Engachev.She had won three gold and two silver medals at the Doha Arab Games, which helped her being adjudged the Qatar Olympic Committee’s Best Female Athlete of the Year.
PROSPECTS: Though a strong competitor at the Arab level, she is too inexperienced to bring home any medal. However, with age being on her side, she should be in a much better position at the 2016 Rio Games.
Rashid Saleh Hamad Al Athba
Event: Trap shooting
An accomplished double-trap shooter, Rashid’s qualified with a gritty show. Even though he failed to make the cut in his pet event at the Asian Olympic qualifying event in Doha, he rode his luck to finish third in trap.This is Rashid’s second attempt at an Olympic medal. At the ’04 Games in Athens, he had finished 11th.
PROSPECTS: Rashid boasts of lots of international competition experience. But considering the levels of competition, a final appearance will be an achievement.
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah
Event: Skeet shooting
One of Qatar’s top-class sportsmen, he qualified for his fifth Olympics with a world record-equalling performance at the Asian Championship in Doha in January. He won gold with a perfect score of 150.The ace rally driver-cum-shooter finished third at the Guangzhou Asiad and also won the team gold in the company of his brother Abdulaziz Saleh Al Attiyah and Masoud Hamad Al Athba.
PROSPECTS: After narrowly missing out on a medal at the ’04 Athens Olympics, Nasser’s time may finally have arrived. He is in great form and is easily Qatar’s brightest medal prospect.
Event: 50M freestyle swimming
Gheith was a member of the Qatar team for the ’10 Singapore Youth Olympics. He was given a wild card to compete in London. His most recent participation was at the Doha Arab Games, where he competed in five events. He did not qualify for any of the finals.
: For Gheith, participation would be the key. He should do well to progress past the first round.
Nada Mohammad Wafa Arakji
Event: 50M freestyle swimming
Nada began her career as a nine-year-old at the Tidal Waves club in the Al Jazeera Academy. She participated at the British Schools in the Middle East Games in Dubai and Bahrain.Nada competed at the Doha Arab Games and is looking to better her own personal best time of 30sec.
PROSPECTS: A wild-card entry, she is not expected to get past the first round of competition. She is a pioneer nonetheless.
Event: Table tennis
Aya will be Qatar’s first female table tennis player at the Olympics. In 2010, she won three gold medals — singles, doubles and team — at the GCC Championship in Doha.She recently finished ninth at the Asian Junior Championship in Jiangyin, China.
PROSPECTS: She is a rising star at the GCC and Arab levels. A favourable draw could see her winning a preliminary game, but is not expected to progress further.