Posted on February 19, 2016

The stage is set for an exciting weekend of track and field actions as the 7th Asian Indoor Athletics Championship kicks off at the state-of-the-art facility of the Aspire Dome in Doha on Friday.

About 300 athletes from 36 countries including Olympic triple jump champion Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan, Olympic bronze medallist and local hero Mutaz Barshim, and Indian shot putter Om Prakash Singh, are in the fray for honours at this year's event. This is the second time Qatar will play hosts to the event following a successful 2008 edition where Samuel Francis and Thamer Kamal Ali made headlines by posting championship records in the 60m and 1500m respectively. Francis who made 6.62s subsequently bettered his own record at the 2010 event in Tehran where he posted 6.58s.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) President Major General Dahlan al Hamad said that by hosting the event, the federation is once again establishing its reputation as a key and trusted partner with the IAAF and the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) in delivering a world-class event. "Three days of athletics action await us with Asia's elite athletes vying for the honour to win the continental title in what is expected to be, judging from the early signs, one of the best indoor athletics competitions ever held in Asia,"Hamad, who is also the AAA president said.

He added that the QAF's experienced personnel have put everything in place as it aims to deliver once again a successful and memorable competition in Doha. "In all 12 athletes have returned to defend the titles they won two years ago in Hangzhou, China. With the IAAF World Indoor Championships just four weeks away, this weekend's competition is a major stepping stone for Asian athletes with global aspirations," the AAA president said about the tough competition expected in Doha. "We expect a close contest between Qatar and the 2014 overall medals winner, China, as well as Kazakhstan, who are presenting strong teams in both the women and men disciplines, for the top three standings on the overall medals table," Hamad added.

The championships will provide the climax of an important week in Doha for Asian athletics, just days after the area federation held a meeting of its Council with IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe one of the guests. Speaking about some of the key decisions made at the council meeting, the AAA president said,"I have proposed to introduce the terms of the president and the council to be limited to a maximum of three terms or not exceeding 17 years." He said that the council have decided to study and give recommendations at their next meeting.

He added that India's city of Ranchi has been confirmed as the host of the next Asian Championships while Bangkok, Thailand will host the 2017 Asian Youth Championships."Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has been confirmed as the host of the 2016 Asian Junior Championships which will be held from June 3-6 while the 2016 Asian 20km Race walking Championships will be held at Nomi-shi, Japan on March 20, a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games," he said. He said that Shanghai, China has been chosen to host the 2017 Asian Marathon Championship in the month of April.

Speaking at the event, Maurice R. Nicholas, the treasurer of the AAA, said that the remarkable progress the regional body has experienced in recent years has helped foster the rising global stature of many of the region's athletes. "Why have we progressed? Because we have become professional in the way we organise our events," Nicholas said."And our coaches are professionals. We don't do things like in the old days, on trial and error. Everything is from a professional approach," said the 84-year-old veteran administrator from Singapore who has been at the helms of affairs of the association as secretary-treasurer for over 40 years.

source: Qatar Tribune