Qatar’s para athletes target Tokyo berths
Podium finishes at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai can ensure qualification for the 2020 Paralympics.
Five Qatari athletes will eye qualification berths for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games when they take part in the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai next month.
Abdulrahman Abdulqadir, Sara Masoud, Mohammed Ali Al Abid, Mohammed Al Kubaisi and Khalid Al Hajri will carry Qatar’s hopes at the Nov 7-15 championships, a qualification event set by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for Tokyo.
While Abdulrahman, Sara and Al Abid will take part in shotput, Al Kubaisi and Al Hajri will compete in track events (wheelchair).
Suhail Chouku, technical director of the Qatar Paralympic Committee (QPC), said two Qatari athletes had crossed the first hurdle of achieving the minimum qualification mark for the Paralympic Games but it did not assure them an entry. He explained what they needed to do next.
“It’s a quota system and it’s the country that gets the berths. A podium finish at the World Championships can secure a berth. We’re hoping to get at least three qualification spots in Dubai. The IPC also hands out extra berths based on the number of registered players from each country. We don’t have too many players so getting a ticket through that system could be difficult,” said Chouku.
Abdulrahman and Sara have matched the eligibility criteria so far. The others will be hoping to first achieve the minimum qualifying mark and then set their sights on earning a ticket to Tokyo.
Qatar’s preparations included a training camp in Poland and participation in Grand Prix events in the last few months. Chouku was realistic about the team’s chances.
“Abdulrahman is our best bet for a medal. As it is the World Championships, the competition will be tough. We’re hoping that Al Kubaisi and Sara can reach the final in their events. For the others, they’ll have to lift their performance to the next level if they hope to be among the medals,” said Chouku.
The technical director said there had been increased focus on para sports in many countries, resulting in marked improvement in competition levels.
“You may have a world record in one event, but at the Paralympic Games you may not even finish in the top 10. For many countries, the four-year preparation period is not just an Olympic programme, it’s an Olympic and Paralympic programme. Such is the importance countries like USA, Australia, China, Ukraine and Japan give to their para athletes,” said Chouku.