DOHA, Qatar – Enthusiastic schoolchildren from across Doha were given a taste of stardom this evening as they brushed shoulders with Olympians after class in an inspiring and lively event at the iconic MIA Park.
Having been told by teachers they would take part in an after school sporting activity linked to Friday’s Diamond League, the youngsters were thrilled to find themselves in the company of Olympic Gold medalist Conseslus Kipruto and fellow Australian Olympian Genevieve Lacaze, who challenged them to a one kilometer fun run along the capital’s stunning shoreline.
For the children, the challenge represented an opportunity to test their fitness levels against two of the world’s best steeplechasers, with many eagerly sprinting away at the start. The Olympians were willing participants, encouraging collaboration and friendly competition, but were sensibly keeping their legs fresh as they begin final preparations for their respective Diamond League events later in the week.
Speaking immediately following the run, Kindah Moussa, 12, from Aspire Girls Athletics Club said:
“I’m a bit tired and out of breath, but that was a cool experience! I love running so to come here after lessons and see how fast I am compared with Olympic athletes was lots of fun. My favorite moment was when I ran past Kipruto the Olympian. I can’t wait to tell all my friends about it!”
Organised by the Qatar Athletics Federation and supported by the Qatar Olympic Committee, the event was designed to inspire and engage local school children in athletics and celebrate the true spirit of the sport with the next generation of athletes, especially with the opener to the Diamond League season arriving in the city on Friday and the IAAF World Championships on the horizon in 2019.
For Conseslus Kipruto, ensuring that youngsters are connected to the sport from a young age is critical for the development of athletics in the region:
“Events like this one are just as important, if not more important than the major international competitions as it gives the sport a chance to inspire new talent who are going to be the champions of the future. We had a great time today and hopefully I can return in a decade’s time to watch one of these kids pull on a Qatar vest and compete at the very highest level.”
Genevieve Lacaze, who competed in both the women’s 3000m steeplechase and 5000 metres at the Rio Olympics added:
“My journey in athletics and to the Olympics started at informal events like this one, so it is a privilege to lend my support and help inspire the next generation of athletes. I hope that a simple one kilometer run along a coastline will motivate some of these kids to continue running and having fun with their friends.”
Although there was no winner on the day, Dr. Thani Al Kuwari, Secretary General of the Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) expressed his pride that the event had connected people through a common love of sport in advance of the Doha Diamond League. He said:
“We are hosting the Diamond League opener in Doha this Friday with a simple ambition to share our passion for sport and our culture with Qataris and the world. It is an ambition that has no boundaries, borders or limits and is rooted in our ability to reach out and engage all communities, especially the youngest among us.”
“Athletics has the power to connect people in common purpose, create lasting friendships and inspire people through exceptional human endeavor in a way that few other sports can. We hope this experience will live long in the memories of all the kids who took part, encourage them to attend Friday’s event and ultimately inspire them to pursue their own Olympic dreams.”
This year’s Doha Diamond League promises to be one of the best-ever with no less than 16 reigning Olympic and World Champions, and a total of 44 global medallists competing on Friday 5th May from 5-9pm at Qatar Sports Club. Tickets are priced from just QR40 and can be bought online now at www.q-tickets.com. Keep up to date on all news on the Diamond League website and social media channels.