By Nicola Milan, Doha, Qatar, Dec 14, 2017: Qatar’s sporting heroes have come together with schoolchildren and inspirational individuals to stage a unifying and patriotic Team Qatar flag relay in celebration of Qatar National Day 2017 (Team Qatar flag relay unites QATAR).
Qatar’s Al Adaam national flag was carried around the country’s most iconic landmarks, incorporating multiple sporting activities to spread a message of peace, friendship and solidarity through sport. The flag covered almost 200km across Qatar and involved over 400 participants who represented the depth and diversity of Qatar’s sporting success over recent years.
Commenting on the Team Qatar Flag Relay, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee, H.E. Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani, said:
“I have been so humbled to see how the power of sport has brought our nation together through such an inspirational and patriotic flag relay today. The values of sport and the values of our nation are intrinsically linked and our Team Qatar flag relay provided a wonderful occasion to celebrate the achievements and inspirational spirit of our athletes and our country ahead of this year’s National Day.
We have showcased the very best of Qatar and the very best of sport in a unifying celebration that spread the Olympic values and transmitted a message of peace, friendship and solidarity through our national flag – a symbol of our dignity and pride. I would like to pass my thanks on to everyone that participated and contributed to making the day such a success.”
The flag relay began early in the morning at Sealine Beach in the south of the country with Qatar’s national cycling team showcasing their speed and stamina as they transported the flag in a fast-moving peloton 40 km to Souq Al Wakra.
From there it travelled up to the Museum of Islamic Art by motorbike where it was handed to some of Qatar’s most successful athletes, including World and Paralympic ParaAthletics medallists, Abdelrahman Abdelqader and Sara Masoud and World Junior Weightlifting Champion and senior world silver medallist Fares Ibrahim, who all joined local schoolchildren to carry the flag on multiple legs around Doha’s stunning Corniche.
Speaking about the experience, Abdelrahman Abdelqader said:
“I’m so proud and happy that I participated with the other athletes in the Team Qatar Flag Relay today and that I raised the Al Adaam flag. The event today showed our unity and solidarity for our flag. Raising the flag of Qatar in my recent World Championship was a great achievement to me and I felt very proud.”
Meanwhile, Fares Ibrahim said:
“I’m so proud that I was a part of the Flag Relay. We strive to raise the flag for Qatar inside and outside the country. I felt so proud that I won a silver medal for Qatar in the World Senior Championship just before National Day.”
Following a stop at the Qatar Olympic Committee Tower, where Secretary General Jassim Buenain and Vice-Presidents Dr Thani Al Kuwari and Shk Saud Bin Ali Al Thani, celebrated with all staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure Qatar’s hugely successful sports development over recent years, the flag made its way to Katara by classic cars.
From Katara, Team Qatar athletes swum, sailed and rowed across the water with the flag to Porto Arabia in the Pearl, before one of Qatar’s first-ever female Olympians, table tennis player Aya Mohamed, transported it by water taxi to awaiting jet skis at Qanat Quartier.
Aya Mohamed said:
“I’m so proud that I’ve participated in the Team Qatar Flag Relay and that I was one of the flagbearers. Qatar has given me so much and I am so pleased to be able to give back to my country for National Day.”
A short jet ski journey around the coast saw the flag arrive at Lusail City, Qatar’s newest planned smart city, which will be home to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup opening and final matches. An awaiting aeroplane driven by pilot Ahmed Abdulrahman flew the flag high in the Qatari sky before it touched down for the flag relay’s most northern stop, Al Khor.
From here, it was collected by Qatar’s motorcycling community, who led a procession to Qatar’s famous equestrian facility, Al Shaqab, in the west of Doha.
The next stop was the Aspire Park, the heart of Qatari sport and home to multiple major global sporting events over the last ten years where it was collected by two of Qatar’s most successful male and female athletes of 2017, Mutaz Barshim and Kholood Al Khalaf.
Barshim, 2017 high jump World Champion and IAAF World Athlete of the Year and Al Khalaf, who won two bronze shooting medals at this year’s Islamic Solidarity Games, ran with the flag towards the iconic Khalifa Stadium, which will host the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in less than two years, and where Mutaz Barshim will be hoping to retain his world title in front of a home crowd.
Kholood Al Khalaf said:
“I’m so happy and proud that I was chosen to participate in the Flag Relay and I hope that we are always a part of raising the flag for Qatar.”
The flag was then passed to H.E. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani who ran the final Aspire Park leg of the relay and handed it to sporting legend, Nasser Al Attiyah who this year won the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for an incredible 13th time, and also won Olympic bronze in shooting at London 2012. Commenting on the experience, Nasser said:
“This is a great honour for us and I’d like to thank H.E. Shk Joaan for giving us this beautiful opportunity to raise the flag for Qatar and for organising the Team Qatar Flag Relay today. It witnessed great audiences and we as athletes were so happy to be part of this fantastic event.
I always strive to do my best and raise the flag for Qatar at home and overseas in all sporting events and we are so proud that we won the World Rally Championships and the Middle East Championships. I’m so proud that I’m Qatari and that I represent Qatar. The flag will always fly high in events and in our hearts.”
Nasser led his fellow rally drivers the short journey to Darb Al Saai, where they made a grand entrance to the heart of Qatar’s National Day festivities and delivered the flag to H.E. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, who had reunited with his fellow torchbearers from the historic 2006 Asian Games Torch Relay. Hassan Matar Alsuwaidi, Marsouk saad Alabdallah, Abdullah Alsuwaidi, Khalid Alamri, Hamad Almusallam, Abdullab Aman and Khalid Alkhulaifi all joined H.E. for the duration of the Torch Relay, which visited 15 countries and nine cities over the space of 55 days.
H.E. Sheikh Joaan brought together all of the day’s flagbearers and flag relay participants, Qatar’s sporting community, volunteers and hundreds of members of the public for a ceremonial and patriotic parade, followed by the raising of the flag high over Darb Al Saai to conclude the day with a unifying and celebratory grand finale.
Follow the Team Qatar social media channels for photo and video highlights from the day and sign up to the Team Qatar Club to unite in support of Team Qatar’s incredible athletes.
The Qatar Olympic Committee passes it sincere thanks to all of the flagbearers, athletes, federations, venues and partners that contributed to making the day the success that it was.
This includes the Qatar Cycling and Triathlon Federation, Qatar Paralympic Association, Qatar Table Tennis Association, Qatar Centre for Motorcycles – Batabit, Qatar Taekwondo Federation, Qatar Weightlifting Federation, Qatar Gymnastics Federation, Qatar Volleyball Association, Qatar Handball Association, Qatar Shooting and Archery Association, Qatar Swimming Association, Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation, Qatar Tennis Federation, Qatar Winter Sports Committee, Qatar Air Sports Committee, Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, Qatar Basketball Federation, Qatar School Sports Federation, Qatar Squash Federation, Qatar Equestrian Federation, Qatar Athletics Federation, the Ministry of Interior (Traffic Department and Coasts and Borders Security), Museum of Islamic Art, Katara, Souq Waqif, The Pearl, Lusail, Al Khor Airport, Qatar Foundation, Al Shaqab, Aspire, Darb Al Saii and Al Meera.
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