A record 38 Qatari athletes have qualified for the summer Olympics in Rio next month, the largest-ever squad the country has sent to the games.
Though this is more than triple the number Qatar sent to London in 2012, only two women will be heading to Brazil this year, down from four during the last tournament.
The country had hoped to increase this number, but with qualification rounds now over, the participant list is set.
It includes swimmer Nada Arakji, who is appearing at her second Olympic Games; and Dalal Al-Harthi, who will race in the women’s 400m sprint.
In 2012, Arakji and three other female athletes made history as it was the first time Qatar had sent women to compete in the games.
But all were there via the wildcard system, in which athletes who haven’t qualified automatically are granted spots with the aim of increasing diversity and sport participation.
One reason fewer female athletes have qualified is because their numbers are small. Previously, some have said that pursuing careers in sports can be difficult for women because it requires challenging conservative societal norms.
The squad also includes Olympic Bronze medalists Nasser Al Attiyah, a rally racer and shooter; and Mutaz Barshim, a high-jumper.
— Wanda Diamond League (@Diamond_League) July 14, 2016
Three entire teams from Qatar will also compete next month:
- The beach volleyball squad, which qualified for the games for the first time after defeating China at the AVC Continental Cup in June;
- The equestrian team, which won the second stage of the FEI Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi last year; and
- The men’s handball team, which came in second place at the Handball World Championships last year.
In a statement, Dr. Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said that it was “a very exciting time” for Olympic sport in Qatar:
“We hope that the whole nation will join our partners in getting behind our athletes and celebrate their incredible achievements in the true spirit of Olympism. We cannot wait for the Games to begin,” he said.
In addition to the beach volleyball and equestrian teams, Qatar’s contingent includes several more athletes who will be competing in the Olympics for the first time.
Among them are boxers Hakan Erseker, who will compete in the men’s 60kgs, and Thualsi Tharumalingam, who will compete in the men’s 64kgs.
The country will send Fares Ibrahim to compete in Weightlifting, while Ashraf Elseify will compete in the Hammer, and Ahmed Bader in the Javelin.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old swimmer Noah Al-Khulaifi will become Qatar’s youngest ever Olympian when he competes in the 100m backstroke.
To galvanize support for Qatar’s Olympic team, which is being led by QOC President Sheikh Joann, the committee is running a social media campaign called #YallaQatar.
Through it, residents are urged to tweet their encouragement to the country’s athletes and share their thoughts about the competitions.
QOC has produced a promotional video to promote the campaign:
Here is a full list of the Qatar Olympic Squad for Rio 2016:
|Beach volleyball team
Are you excited about the games? Thoughts?