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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Qatar prepares to host world’s largest para-athletic tournament


All photos courtesy of Qatar Olympic Committee

More than 1,000 athletes with special needs will gather in Doha next month to take part in what will be the world’s biggest single para-sport event, organizers have said.

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships will be held for the first time in the Middle East at Qatar Sports Club from Oct. 21-31, during which 1,400 sportsmen and women from 100 countries will compete for the top titles.

Under the slogan “Beyond Incredible,” the competition’s large roster of participants makes it larger in scope than the London 2012 Paralympics.

Among those in attendance will be paralympic champions, defending world champions and world-record holders, who will also compete to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Qatar’s athletes

Qatar’s national team, which consists of nine athletes, have also qualified to take part in the World Championships.

While the final roster has not yet been released, those vying for top places include Abdelrahman Abdelqader, Mohamed Al Khubaisi and the only woman on the national para-sports team, Sara Hamdi Masoud.

QOC Secretary General Al Kuwari, Qatari Paralympic Association President Al Mulla and Qatari athletes
QOC Secretary General Al Kuwari, Qatari Paralympic Association President Al Mulla and Qatari athletes

Abdelqader, 27, is currently ranked second globally in shot put, and also will compete in javelin and discus throw.

After competing in London 2012 and taking gold for shot put and bronze for javelin in the 2014 Asian Para Games, he is hoping to put out a strong performance in front of a home crowd next month.

Meanwhile, discus and shot put athlete Masoud, 29, took the gold medal in both sports in the 2014 Asian Para Games. And in April this year, she came second in the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Beijing.

Al Khubaisi, 22, competed in the 100m T34 event, winning gold for team Qatar in the race at the 2014 Asian Para Games. Much like his medal-winning teammates, he also won the gold medal in the wheelchair 100m and 200m events in Beijing during IPC Athletics Grand Prix fixture earlier this year.

The Qatari athletes will be among 200 other para-athletes from around the world taking part in an ongoing test event that runs until Sept. 15, and is also this year’s Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) Para-Athletics Championships.

“My season has been going very well so far and I will use the GCC Para-Athletics Championships to see what form I am in and what I need to work on ahead of the World Championships,” Abdelqadar said in a statement.

According to the IPC’s website, the events on the Paralympic program include:

Qatari athletes Abdelqader and Al Khubaisi
Qatari athletes Abdelqader and Al Khubaisi

Track events such as sprint (100m, 200m, 400m); middle distance (800m, 1,500m); long distance (5,000m, 10,000m) and relay races (4x100m, 4x400m). The field events are high jump, long jump, triple jump, discus, shot put, javelin, while marathon and pentathlon also feature.

Among those expected to compete are Great Britain’s 100m T44 Paralympic and world champion Jonnie Peacock and Germany’s world champion in the long jump T44 long jump Markus Rehm. Athletes with T44 classifications usually have paralysis in a limb or a missing limb.

Launching the ticket sales for the event (which can be booked here and the proceeds of which go to charity), CEO of the Organizing Committee and President of the Qatar Paralympic Association, Ameer Al-Mulla, said:

“We are expecting an electric atmosphere in the stadium and multiple world-records are likely to be set. Nothing will compare to being able to witness the incredible action live.”

Sharing stories

Raising awareness of the challenges faced and overcome by the athletes, organizers are releasing a series of short-films entitled My Incredible Story, where five sportsmen and women share their experiences.

Brazilian paralympian Terezinha Guilhermina features in the first video, where she talks about being born with a degenerative eye condition, and growing up in poverty in a family of 12 that had little money for food.

Now a world champion in the 100m, 200m and 400m events, she became the world’s fastest blind athlete at the 2012 Paralympics.

Guilhermina first discovered her talent for running when escaping from school bullies. She says in the film:

“During my childhood, our financial situation had a very deep impact on my life, on the way I looked at the world. I believe those who have little in life can sometimes achieve a lot more. I used to dream of being the best in the world, so I could change my story. Sport has had an amazing impact on my life. I went from being Terezina Guilhermina, the one who dreamed, to Terezina Guilhermina, the one who achieved her dreams.”

Four other films will be released ahead of the opening day of the tournament.

Dr Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, President of the Local Organising Committee and Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee said:

“The motto of the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships is ‘Beyond Incredible’. We want to use the World Championships to show the incredible stories behind some of the athletes that are competing in order to raise awareness of para-sport and people with a disability. We want to help break down barriers and change perceptions.”

Do you plan to go? Thoughts?


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6 years ago

I hope this event can be used as an awareness for people with disabilities. The social stigma here needs to change (although it has gotten better it still needs to improve) and more of an effort needs to be made to help integrate people with certain disabilities into schools and workplaces.

6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

WHAT social stigma ??, please talk about your self. people with disabilities in Qatar has the most respect here, many are working & in public schools.

6 years ago
Reply to  qatari

Maybe the phrase “social stigma” is too negative for what I am trying to say as I don’t mean disrespecting or being mean to someone with disabilities. What I mean is in the past some families preferred to keep their family members at home and out of the public for whatever reason whether it is out of shame, a feeling of needing to protect them or not knowing how to provide support or something else.

Consequently there was little support for disabilities which isn’t just limited to people who are wheelchair ridden. This is surprising as there is such an awareness anf push for genetics testing to help prevent some birth defects that occur from familial intermarriage.

We are lucky here that we have the culture of big familes and family support so that rarely is a disabled person alone to care for themselves or has to unwillingly be independent. However, does the family have the knowledge, understanding or support to deal with the disabilities? Some disabilities are easier to support and more common then others.

Also I have heard the Shafallah school was always full (not sure if it still is) and it was said there was mismanagement/embezzlement of funds by the Director (not sure if they caught him before he left the country).

Most schools do not have the staff to deal with kids who need extra time, attention or patience. Support for learning disabilities or behavior disabilities is very hard to find therefore either go undiagnosed or untreated and sometimes seen as a badly behaved child or one that isn’t very bright (i am referring to autism, dyslexia, adhd etc).

As I said things are improving, just the other day the papers were talking about a young deaf Qatari (Saeed Al-Marri) who hopes to be the first deaf Qatari college graduate. He has been accepted to a prestigious program in the States and has been encouraged and supported by MOI. Perhaps the most inspirational example is the young Ghanim Al-Muftah (if you have not heard of him you can google him). With his dedicated parents (his mother a former teacher), Ghanim is showing children that anything is possible. I don’t remember hearing about stories like these (whether in the papers or word of mouth)growing up.

6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

exactly ,in a small & young country i do believe we achieved great deal in providing most of their needs. its a process . mistakes will happen along the way, but the people are very accepting of people with disability.

6 years ago

Cool! Hope this happens every year.

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