World champion runner Mo Farah will make his first-ever visit to Qatar when he competes in the Doha Diamond League on May 15, organizers have confirmed.
The British athlete will be one of the first athletes in the 14-meeting International Association of Athletics Federation’s Diamond League campaign when he competes in the 3,000 meter running event at the 15,000-seater Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Qatar Sports Club’s home ground in Dafna/West Bay.
Farah, 32, won the gold at the London Olympics in 2012 for both the 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter running events, and replicated his feat the following year at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
At the Lisbon half-marathon last month, he became the first Briton to break the 60-minute mark for the distance, finishing in 59:32.
In a statement about his upcoming visit, Farah said:
“I’ve heard so many great things about the track, the crowd and the competition in Doha.
There are always very strong fields in the distances so this will be a great early season test on the track for me. I’m looking forward to a good performance.”
In a tweet about coming to Qatar, he also took the opportunity to promote his next goal – to obtain the one-mile world record. In February, he achieved the two-mile indoor world record in the UK, with a time of 8 minutes, 3.4 seconds.
— Sir Mo Farah (@Mo_Farah) March 31, 2015
In a statement, president of the Qatar Athletics Federation Dahlan Al Hamad said:
“We are delighted to have one of the greatest current Olympic and world champions at our meeting this year. Mo Farah’s first appearance in Doha will ensure that our tradition of early season distance racing excellence will continue this year.”
The athlete’s Doha visit comes on the heels of a controversy last month when he was pictured on social media running alongside Moroccan-born Qatari athlete Hamza Driouch.
Driouch was barred by the IAAF from taking part in all athletics until December 2016 due to irregularities with his biological passport.
Driouch, whose penalty was only made public in February, is also being investigated by the IAAF for breaching the two-year doping ban.
Farah’s agent Ricky Simms said the British athlete was not part of a training camp and was in Ethiopia to train alone, The Independent reported.
Others to watch
Running against Farah in Doha will be Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, the 2013 World Championships silver medalist at 5,000m, who won the Doha 3,000m in 2013. He’ll be joined by 24-year-old Yenew Alamirew, who set the Doha meeting record of 7:27.26 in 2011, still his career best.
Farah may not be the only big name in athletics to perform at the Doha meet, as Qatar Athletics Federation President Dahlan Al Hamad hinted recently that world 100m and 200m champion Usain Bolt may also compete, Doha Stadiums Plus Qatar reports.
The sports website quotes Al Hamad as saying at a press conference last month:
“At this point of time, I can neither confirm nor deny that we’re in touch with Usain Bolt. He’s a great runner and organizers would love to have him at their meet. We’ll welcome him with open arms if he decides to run in Doha. He’s a treasure of track and field,” he added.
The IAAF Diamond League is an annual series of track and field meetings that take place in 14 cities in the US, Europe and China, with the first events being hosted in Qatar.
Doha’s races will start from 5:30pm on May 15, and the schedule for events, according to Doha Diamond League, will include:
- Men: 100m, 800m, 3,000m, 400m hurdles, pole vault, triple jump, shot put and javelin throw;
- Women: 200m, 400m, 1,500m, 3,000m steeplechase, 100m hurdles, high jump, long jump and discus throw.
According to the schedule, Qatari high-jumper Mutaz Barshim, who won bronze in the 2012 Olympics and gold in the 2011 Asian Athletics, will not compete on home ground.
His debut for the series will instead take place in Shanghai on May 17.
According to the organizers, tickets will go on sale “in due time,” although there are no details on prices. A date will be announced on social media, they added.
Do you plan to go? Thoughts?