Qatar’s women will rise to Ashgabat 2017 challenge
Qatar will be out to make an impact when it sends a strong delegation to compete at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games taking place in the Turkmenistan capital city of Ashgabat between 17–27 September.
Ever since being selected as the football World Cup hosts in 2022, Qatar has drawn global attention in a number of areas when it comes to sport.
Following that historic announcement in 2010, a concerted effort was launched by the Qatari leadership to promote more opportunities in sport, particularly among the female population.
In particular, the emirate focussed on ensuring female athletes would be a part of its delegation to attend an Olympic Games for the first time in London 2012.
And it paid off with Noor Al-Malki (sprinter), Nada Arkaji (swimming), Bahiya Al-Hamad (shooter) and Aya Maidi (table tennis) all making history in London.
Four years later in Rio de Janeiro, Qatari females were in the spotlight again when Arkaji and Dalal Al-Harith (400m) joined a record squad of 38 athletes.
The ambition to have more female athletes doesn’t stop there and investment has continued into Qatar’s small population to identify and train more females through to international level.
“I think the number of women will increase,” Thani Abdulrahman Al-Kuwari, the Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, told reporters recently.
The reality is that Qatar has a small population to choose from. Of the 2.7 million people calling it home, only 310,000 are Qataris and previously it has been difficult for girls and women to break into top level sport. But the drive from its leadership for more inclusiveness will continue, and Ashgabat 2017 will provide another major international platform for them to show their progress.
At home, the results continue to come and only recently Qatar’s first female jockey saddled up for competitive horse racing.
And there was considerable success at this year’s Gulf Women’s Games, hosted by Doha in March, when Qatar topped the medals table with 60, including 21 gold in sports as diverse as athletics, chess, fencing, taekwondo, handball and basketball.
“Our success is inspiring lots of new females in Qatar to want to play and to join the national team. During the tournament, we saw many players registering to join, which was amazing to see,” said Al-Kuwari.
So while the final number for the Qatar team to Ashgabat 2017 is being finalised, don’t be surprised to see a large female contingent not only competing, but looking for medals.
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