Posted on October 08, 2016

The fifth consecutive FINA airweave Swimming World Cup in Doha has got off to a thrilling start following the first morning of competition. A total of 24 young Qataris were in action, including Rio 2016 Olympians Noah Al Khulaifi and Nada Arakji. Olympic medallists and world-record holders, including Katinka Hosszu, Chad le Clos, Jeanette Ottesen and Vladmir Morozov also started off their competitions with winning performances.

Speaking following the opening session, President of the Qatar Swimming Association and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Khaleel Al Jabir, said: ‘This year’s World Cup is off to a perfect start with many high-quality performances, and we cannot wait to see what will happen in the finals. We are very pleased to have so many Qatari swimmers competing in this year’s event and this shows just how far swimming in Qatar has developed over recent years. Participating in world-class competitions against the world’s best swimmers gives our young athletes inspirational experience for their future careers.’

Speaking following his 100m backstroke race, Abdulaziz Al Obaidly, 15 said: ‘I would like to repeat my performance and keep my good scores in this World Cup. I was just next to World Champions and swimming next to them feels great. I’ve met some inspirational individuals and I’m looking to my best.’

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Nasser Yaser Hassaan, 17, who competed in the 200m breaststroke, said: ‘It feels great to be swimming around the world’s best swimmers. I’ve got good experience from them by seeing how they get prepared and train just before the heats.’

Also competing were more experienced members of the Qatar team, Nada Arakji, 21, who this year became the first female Qatari to compete in two Olympic Games, and 17 year old Noah Al Khulaifi, who was one of the youngest members of Qatar’s Rio 2016 Olympic team. Speaking following racing in the men’s 50m butterfly, Al Khulaifi said: ‘I can see the improvement in my performance today in terms of everything and now I’m focussing on the World Cup in Singapore and the World Championships in Canada.’

Current leader in the World Cup rankings, Vladimir Morozov showed that he continues to be in excellent form by qualifying in first place in the 100m freestyle and 100m individual medley heats and second in the 50m breaststroke. He will come up against Doha crowd favourite, Chad le Clos, who won 3 golds at the Doha 2014 World Championships and two silvers in Rio 2016 Olympics, in the 100m freestyle in this evening’s finals setting up what promises to be a thrilling dual. Speaking following his heats, Morozov said:

‘Although I’m really tired now, what keeps me motivated is competing against other great athletes but also competing against myself, improving and beating myself.’

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In the women’s competition, Jeanette Ottesen of Denmark gave a taste of her current excellent form by qualifying with the fastest times in both the women’s 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle. Ottesen is currently in second place in the 2016 World Cup rankings behind Hungary’s Iron Lady, Katinka Hosszu, who was also in action this morning, qualifying for five finals in the 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 50m freestyle.

Following her heats, Ottesen commented: ‘Doha is my last stop. I’ve been here before and I love it. I’m honestly looking forward to have some fun – this is my current focus.’

The competition continues from 18:05 on Saturday evening with the finals.Further Olympic medallists will be in action, including Rie Kaneto of Japan who is the reigning Olympic 200m breaststroke Champion, USA’s Katie Melli who won silver in the Rio 2016 4 x 100m relay, Brittany Elmslie, who won gold in the Rio 2016 4 x 100m relay for Australia and fellow teammate Madeline Groves who won 2 Olympic silver medals in Rio. Tickets are available through Qtickets.com for just 20 QAR, and you can keep up to date with all the action at www.qatarswimming.com, and on social media through @SWCDoha on Twitter, and search for FINA airweave Swimming World Cup Doha on Facebook.

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