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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Spirit of beach sport comes alive at Qatar’s party

Athletes excel, fans enjoy even as the Gulf nation’s organisational ability shines through at the inaugural event.
The Emir Hh Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani The Father Emir Hh Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani And Hh Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser
The Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Father Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser watch Qatar’s match against the USA in the beach volleyball final. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Qatar have hosted major global sports events in the past, with their flawless planning and perfect execution earning appreciation. While organising those events, they had the luxury of time. But when it came to the ANOC World Beach Games, which concluded at the Katara Beach on Wednesday, time was one factor not on Qatar’s side.

In just three months, Qatar had to host over 1200 athletes from 97 countries. Fourteen sports had to be organised at temporary venues built from scratch. Events and personnel had to be coordinated over a period of six days at four venues – Katara Beach, Al Gharafa Sports Club, Aspire Park and Legtaifiya Lagoon.

Athletes Gave Their All During The Competitions At The Anoc World Beach Games
Athletes gave their all during the competitions at the ANOC World Beach Games. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Truly a logistics nightmare.

Qatar came through it all unscathed. When the sand settled and the last medal was presented at the Katara Cultural Village, it was clear the country had pulled off another great organisational coup. The athletes were able to perform in an ideal environment for competitive sports while the fans had an amazing time lapping up the action.

‘All the facilities and venues are ready in such a short time’, ‘Qatar’s hospitality has been wonderful’, ‘the venues and the competitions in Doha are great to take part in’, ‘a fabulous atmosphere in the stands and great action on the pitch’ were some of the comments from the sporting fraternity.

In such a fine setting, response from the athletes was befitting. Exceptional skills, innovative manoeuvres, dazzling show of strength and speed and determination to excel whatever the challenge – exceptional was the word that captured the performances. Athletes from Spain and Brazil stood out with their displays and they reaped the rewards, finishing first and second on the medals table.

Competitions On The Waters Off The Katara Beach Made For Delightful Viewing
Competitions on the waters off the Katara Beach made for delightful viewing during the ANOC World Beach Games. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The setting was ideal for young talent to catch the eye, with several teenagers vying for top honours against more experienced rivals. While some notched up amazing victories, others learned more work was needed to taste success. But the younger lot certainly brought a breath of fresh air with their skills and zest.

Fifteen-year-old Maxim Roux of France was just one of the teens who caught the eye in Doha. He excelled in the early rounds of skateboarding, doing better than his more experienced rivals, but found the going tough in the medal round.

The scent of the Olympics also wafted across the Games. Three sports making their debut at Tokyo 2020 featured in Doha. And the participants used the opportunity to gear themselves up for the challenge next July-August. The Japanese athletes showed their preparations were on track by winning a clutch of medals.

Kai Harada and Miho Nonaka in bouldering and Sakura Yosozumi in skateboarding were a class apart from the rest of the field in Doha.

“I’m aiming for gold in Tokyo. I am more confident now after my win,” said Harada.

Nonaka felt they would have to deal with the pressure of competing at home.

“It’ll be great to perform at home, but there will also be a lot of pressure,” she said.

Despite the weather not really being very friendly, plenty of fans flocked the venues to create a fantastic atmosphere. And as if to soak in what Qatar had offered the world, the royal family members were in attendance at the Katara Beach on Wednesday. The Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Father Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani were present to watch Qatar take on USA in the final of beach volleyball. Their involvement in Qatar’s sports journey has truly seen the country set new benchmarks with every event they organise.

Fans Cheer From The Stands As Action Heats Up On The Pitch
Fans cheer from the stands as action heats up on the pitch. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran