By Alicia Ludwig, Doha, May 2, 2018: Enthusiastic schoolchildren from across Doha were given the chance to try their hand in athletics with a masterclass hosted by World and Olympic Champions at Aspire Academy (Diamond League Opener).
Held ahead of Friday’s Doha Diamond League, the youngsters, aged nine to twelve, eagerly ran onto the track to be led in a warm-up by Olympic medallist Dawn Harper-Nelson alongside fellow American Olympian Sandi Morris, American Indoor Champion Katie Nageotte and 2017 Diamond League Champion Noah Lyles as well as Javelin World Champion Johannes Vetter and Canadian silver medallist Andre de Grasse.
Utilising the state-of-the-art indoor athletics track at Aspire Academy, the champions shared their expertise with more than 50 eager youth in sprinting, hurdles, javelin and pole vault.
Though demonstrations were kept to a minimum, as the athletes begin final preparations for their respective Diamond League events later in the week, Harper-Nelson, Lyles and de Grasse couldn’t resist a fun relay race at the end of the class.
For Dawn Harper-Nelson, meeting the young children of Doha gave wider insight into the role of sport in the country:
“Being welcomed at Aspire Academy with such warmth from the smiling faces of the schoolchildren shows how much appreciation Qatar has for track and field. I’ve been motivated to put on a great show for Doha and its community and absolutely kill it on the track.”
Twelve-year-old Waleed from Lycée Voltaire expressed his excitement at meeting Andre de Grasse and added about the importance of sport in his life:
“It was a great experience to see these athletes from all over the world, and even more being able to run and try out javelin and pole vaulting with them. We even met Andre de Grasse who was behind Usain Bolt in Rio! Sport is very important for me, because as I see it, it’s not a complete life without sport.”
Organised by the Doha Diamond League Local Organising Committee, in collaboration with Aspire Academy, the masterclass aimed to engage and inspire local schoolchildren in athletics and celebrate the true spirit of the sport with the next generation of athletes, especially with the opener to the Diamond League season arriving in the city on Friday and the IAAF World Championships on the horizon in 2019.
Speaking after the masterclass, Sandi Morris discussed how much she enjoyed the morning and the impact sport can bring beyond the track:
“Coming here today and meeting these children from a different background, I was able to introduce them to pole vaulting, draw the shy ones out of their shells and help them try something new.
That’s what sport is truly about; being able to interact with people from all over the world and build confidence.”
This year’s Doha Diamond League promises to be one of the best-ever and will take place on Friday 4th May from 5-9pm at Qatar Sports Club.
Tickets are priced from just QR40 and can be bought online now at https://bit.ly/2GVnHqN.
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