Posted on December 24, 2015

With less than eight months to go to the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Team Qatar’s Chef de Mission Mohamed al-Fadala discusses the preparations, aspirations and hopes for the delegation as they countdown to the biggest sporting event in the world. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will mark the 8th time Qatar has participated in the Games, with Qatar’s first appearance in the Games coming in 1984 in Los Angeles – only five short years since the establishment of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) in 1979.

Since then, Team Qatar has grown stronger in number and in performances, and made history at the London 2012 Olympic Games by sending their first female athletes ever who competed in swimming, table tennis, athletics and shooting. London 2012 also saw Team Qatar’s sporting heroes Mutaz Barshim and Nasser al-Attiyah win bronze medals in high jump and skeet shooting respectively. Since then, Barshim and al-Attiyah have continued to dominate the international sporting scene while inspiring local Qatari athletes to join them on their Olympic journey.

Commenting on building on Team Qatar’s sporting momentum, al-Fadala said: “By participating in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the QOC hopes to show the true face of its talented athletes and the hard-working federations. After winning two bronze medals thanks to Mutaz and Nasser at London 2012, the ambition now is to improve on all fronts; both in terms of an increase in the number of participating athletes and Team Qatar’s performance.”

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Al-Fadala, who is also the QOC’s Director of Public Relations, will serve as Chef de Mission of the Rio 2016 Delegation, and said of his responsibilities: “The Chef de Mission is essentially the acting head of the delegation taking part in the Games and as such must have a certain aptitude for communications as well as management. Additionally, the Chef de Mission must be able to juggle a multitude of responsibilities and be good at calmly and quickly solving problems.

“As Chef de Mission, I act as the focal point for information for the delegation, and offer my support to fulfill the delegation’s mental, physical and social needs – all in accordance with the regulations stipulated by the IOC. My responsibilities therefore start from long before the Games begin, during the Games and even after they conclude, and are focused on creating the perfect environment for the athletes and the other members of the delegation so that they can carry out their duties in the best way possible – for athletes this means performing better than they ever have before.”

The Qatari athletes’ delegation heading to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is slated to be the biggest athlete contingent in Qatar’s history and already include the National Equestrian Team, the Handball Team and many serious competitors in athletics with several more athletes expected to qualify throughout 2016.

Commenting on the equestrian team’s qualification, Al-Fadala said: “The Qatari Equestrian Team has developed considerably and is now ranked among the very best in the world. In February 2015, Sheikh Ali bin Khalid al-Thani, Ali al-Rumaihi, Khalid al-Emadi and Bassem Hassan Mohamed bested competition in the Furusiyya 2015 Series in Abu Dhabi and secured their well-deserved qualifying spot for Rio. This is a historic achievement for Qatar and the very first time Team Qatar has qualified for the Equestrian competition.”

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The Qatari National Handball Team has also seen similar success by building on an incredible performance in the 24th Men’s Handball World Championships in January 2015 in which they placed second after a narrow defeat in the final to Olympic and World Champions France. Team Qatar later went on to earn their qualifying spot to Rio in an amazing 28-19 victory over Iran in the Asian Qualifiers, in front of an elated home crowd.

Commenting on the Handball team’s qualification, al-Fadala said: “Qatar’s National Handball team’s recent success in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers is a perfect example of one of the main things QOC hopes to achieve by hosting world-class events such as the Men’s Handball World Championships, which is to raise the level of our athletes by allowing them to compete against the very best in the world. By doing so we also inspire new athletes who for the first time ever can witness incredible sporting spectacles first hand thus each World Championships leave a lasting legacy for our youth.”

Among the members of Qatar’s National Athletics Team that have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is gravity-defying high-jumper Mutaz Barshim, as well as upcoming star Ashraf Elseify. Elseify is a two-time Junior World Champion in the Hammer Throw and much like established superstar Barshim, he too graduated from Qatar’s world-class Aspire Academy for Sporting Excellence. “The Aspire Academy for Sporting Excellence is an integral part of Qatar’s Athlete Development Pathway and has fostered and developed some of our best home-grown sporting talents such as Barshim and ElSeify. QOC’s commitment to sporting excellence takes a grass-roots approach and as time progresses we are really starting to see this bear fruit and its clear that Team Qatar’s future grows brighter every year.”

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will take place from the 5th to 21st August and will be the first time the Olympic Games are ever held in South America. The Games are expected to see approximately 10,000 athletes from 205 countries take part, you can follow the progress of Barshim, ElSeify and the rest of Team Qatar leading up to and during the Games via the QOC’s social media channels below.

Twitter: @qatar_olympic; Facebook: Qatar Olympic Committee; Instagram: @qatar_olympic