A 16-year-old Qatari girl who is considered among the country’s most promising young athletes will serve as ambassador for the Dolphin Energy Doha Dash alongside British Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes, organizers have confirmed.
Mariam Farid has already achieved significant success as a member of Qatar’s national track and field team, representing the state in the 400m run and 400m hurdles at regional and international meetings, winning a silver medal in the West Asian Championships in Jordan and also in the GCC championships in Doha last year.
Now she said that she hopes her achievements will inspire other young people to sign up to take part in this annual run, as the first step to becoming more active.
The Doha Dash, now in its third year, takes place on National Sports Day (Feb. 10) at the Losail International Circuit.
It will feature a 5km run for over 12s, a 3km route for over 8s, a 1km children’s run and a 1km ladies’ walk.
Up to 3,200 people are expected to take part in this year’s event, and for many it will be the first time they have put on a pair of trainers to do some sport.
There are just a few days left to register for the event, which can be done online via the website until 11pm on Monday, Feb. 2. Signing up is free for the ladies’ walk and children’s run. Entry for the 3km run costs QR50, while the 5km is QR100.
Money raised from the registration fees will go toward building a new playground for the Shafallah Center, which provides free services to 720 special needs students in Qatar.
Competing in that major track and field event and winning the gold in front of a home crowd is one of her biggest goals in the upcoming years, she told Doha News.
“It would be amazing. I want to show everyone that I’m in my home country, competing in front of my friends and family. Winning would make them proud,” Mariam said.
Spotted by coaches at the age of 13 while training at Aspire, Mariam has been a member of the national team for the past three years. She trains for two hours after school every day, except Fridays, but said she doesn’t find the commitment onerous.
“I really love it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be good at it. It’s a lot, but if you want to be a champion, you have to work. I really want to be a champion. I want to go far – I want to represent Qatar and represent the Gulf woman.
I want to show other countries that girls in Qatar do do sports here, and I want other girls in other Gulf countries to see me and know that they can do this too. We are powerful,” she told Doha News.
Mariam said her success so far has been in a large part due to the support she has received from friends and especially her family. Her father travels with her to all her international competitions, and is a great source of strength, she said.
Mindful of her position as a role model for other young people, particularly young women in Qatar, she is using her role as ambassador for the dash to try to encourage others to take up sport and have a more active lifestyle.
“I want to say to them: change your routine, try something different, something that’s going to be good for your health and generally good for you,” she urged.
“Have the courage to do it. And remember that the person who wants to do something shouldn’t listen to other people and their opinions. The people who don’t want you to be successful will always tell you stuff, that you will fail.
Always believe in yourself,” Mariam added.
Mariam will be this year’s public face of the dash, alongside double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, who won the gold for the 800m and 1,500m distances in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Since she retired from athletics in 2005, Holmes has been an advocate for youth sports and supporting young athletes, particularly in the UK where she has two organizations under her name.
KH Education provides training and mentoring programs for talented young sports people and their coaches, while Dame Kelly Holmes Trust runs sports development courses for disadvantaged young people, including those with disabilities, learning difficulties and the homeless.
Do you plan to take part in the Doha Dash? Thoughts?