Team Qatar, led by the Qatar Olympic (QOC) President H E Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, yesterday received a red carpet welcome on return after a historic performance at the Tokyo Olympics.
Personal Representative of H H the Amir, H H Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani greeted the Qatari contingent on their arrival in Doha. Minister of Culture and Sports H E Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali was also present among other ministers and dignitaries.
Upon their arrival at the Doha airport, musical band played the national anthem to honour Team Qatar, which returned after clinching two golds and a bronze medal in Tokyo – the best ever show in country’s Olympic history.
Fares Ibrahim became the first gold medallist for Qatar after winning weightlifting 96kg category gold followed by high jump superstar Mutaz Barshim, who grabbed the second gold medal for Team Qatar.
Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan wrapped up the historic performance with a bronze medal in beach volleyball as Qatar also topped the Arab teams at Olympics.
“It is the best performance in history of Qatar sports,” Sheikh Joaan said after Team Qatar’s arrival yesterday.
“It is a result of unlimited support for sports from the Amir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,” the QOC President added.
QOC Secretary-General Jassim Rashid Al Buenain was elated to receive a warm welcome for Team Qatar.
“I am very proud to see how people in Qatar feel. We really appreciate this warm reception for Team Qatar. We are looking at this [performance] as the foundation for our next events,” he told reporters yesterday.
Barshim, who won hearts of fans from all around the world after his kind gesture of sharing a gold medal with his Italian friend Gianmarco Tamberi, was relishing the ‘moment of glory’.
“I feel great, I am happy. It’s a moment of glory and I want to thank all these people who have come here to support us. The job is done, it’s been the greatest ever. It’s a feeling I cannot describe in words. It’s a moment in life and I just want to take my time to enjoy this moment,” Barshim said yesterday.
Fares, who will go down in history as the first ever Olympic gold medallist for Qatar, said he was setting sights on winning more accolades for Qatar.
“I am feeling great and I am feeling wonderful to be back home with a gold medal. Hopefully, in the next competitions we can represent Qatar very well,” Fares told reporters.
President of Qatar Athletics Federation Dr. Thani bin Abdulrahman Al Kuwari said the entire contingent continued to celebrate during the 12-hour flight.
“We did not feel the long duration of the flight,” an ecstatic Al Kuwari said yesterday.
“We are so proud with the performance of the whole national team. They did a great job and they have to be proud of themselves. We also promise more accolades in future events like the Asian Games and Paris 2024. It’s is time to celebrate,” he added.
President of the Qatar Weightlifting Federation Mohammed Yousuf Al Mana thanked the Qatari leadership for all out support while President of the Qatar Volleyball Association Ali Ghanem Al Kuwari hoped for a beach volleyball gold at Paris 2024.
Qatar’s historic performance
In Tokyo, Team Qatar participated with a 15-athlete squad, an appearance that will go down as one of the most successful stories in sports history of the country. Never had Qatar won a gold medal before the Tokyo Games.
Barshim and Fares did not just clinched victories, they did in a fashion which will be long remembered.
The 23-year-old weightlifter Fares set two Olympic records on his way to triumph including a total lift of 402kg and clean and jerk lift of 225kg.
Barshim’s high jump win – Qatar’s second gold medal – which he shared with Tamberi by deciding against a jump off was hailed by the whole world as a huge act of kindness.
Both were tied following perfect jumps of 2.37 after which the two-time Qatari world champion agreed to shared gold medal with the Italian.
Barshim, who also won London 2012 bronze and a silver medal at Rio Olympics, also achieved a feat of becoming the first Asian athlete to win all three Olympic medals.
Just a few hours before the return flight to Doha, Cherif and Tijan clinched bronze medal after defeating Latvians Martins Plavins and Edgar Tocs in the third position play-off.
“We knew that we had the potential. What we were focused on was how to express those feelings, how to play better year by year. I think so far we are doing great,” Cherif said yesterday.
While many of Team Qatar athletes – making their Games debuts – were not able to win medals, they impressed with their good performances and are hoping to come back stronger in future assignments. Youngsters like talented swimmer Abdulaziz Al Obaidly, 19, also gained valuable performance in Tokyo.
Qatar made their Olympic debut at Los Angeles Games in 1984 and won their first medal when Mohamed Suleiman took 1500m bronze at Barcelona 1992.
Weightlifter Said Saif Asaad brought second medal at Sydney 2000 with shooter Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (skeet) being their other bronze medallist at London 2012.