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Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (left) receives a certificate from Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Secretary-General, QOC yesterday. RIGHT: Sheikh Saoud hands Mutaz Essa Barshim (left) his certificate at a ceremony yesterday. Al Attiyah beat Russia’s Valeriy Shomin in a shoot-off in the Men’s Skeet shooting final at the London 2012 Olympics on July 31 to win bronze medal. Barshim won bronze in the Men’s high jump final on August 7.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) yesterday honoured the country’s London Games stars shooter Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim.
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Secretary-General, QOC, presented the two bronze winning athletes with certificates and shields at a ceremony attended by top sports officials of the country.
Al Attiyah, 41, won the bronze in the men’s skeet shooting final at the Royal Artillery Barracks on July 31.
Barshim, 21, was one of three bronze winning athletes in the men’s high jump final at the imposing Olympic Stadium on August 7.
“Qatar is proud of its sons, Sheikh Saoud said after presenting the two athletes with special shields.
“I extend the wishes of the Heir Apparent, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to our London Games heroes. These two athletes have brought good name to the country,” he added.
“Their hard work and dedication have helped them win medals at the London Olympic Games,” he said.
“These two have paved the way for future generation of athletes, showing that commitment and die-hard spirit bring positive results,” he added.
Sheikh Saoud said: “The sport-loving people in Qatar are thrilled with their contribution and performances at the London Olympic Games.
“These two athletes are shining example for our future athletes. They have become role models in excellence.”
Sheikh Saoud said: “The success at the London Olympic Games is the result of the sports vision of the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. His Highness the Emir has clearly underlined the importance of sport in our lives. The vision of the Emir has helped Qatar excel in sport around the world.”
Al Attiyah, who appeared in his fifth Olympic Games in London, said: “I thank QOC for their appreciation. I am sure winning the bronze medal in London is just the beginning of good times as I am already looking at the 2016 Rio di Janiero Games.”
The former Dakar-Rally champion added: “I am confident of getting all possible support from QOC and the country as we chase more medals at future Olympic Games and international competitions.”
Barshim, who won the bronze in front of 80,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium on August 7, said: “I thank the Almighty for this honour. The support from the Heir Apparent, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was crucial in me winning this medal. His Highness the Heir Apparent has revolutionised the way we look at sports and how we train. Sport in this country is growing.”
He added: “I would like to thank the QOC and Sheikh Saoud for their support that goes back many months. The support of Abdullah Ahmed Al Zaini, president of Qatar Amateur Athletics association (QAAF), was also invaluable in our journey to winning the bronze.”
Khalil Ibrahim Al Jaber, Director of Sports Affairs Committee, QOC, said: “We congratulate Nasser and Mutaz on their wonderful performances at the London Olympic Games. These two athletes contested against the world’s best and won medals. They set high standards of excellence. We are happy with their commitment and amazing results.”
He added: “They are the pride of the country and the Arab world.”
Mohammed Khamis Al Sulaiti, General Secretary of the Qatar Shooting and Archery Association (QSAA), said: “We thank QOC for this gathering and for their support over the years. After doing so well at the London Olympic Games, I am sure we can do even better at future events around the world. Nasser’s performance in London was truly memorable.”
Adel Al Baker, General Secretary of QAAF, said: “We congratulate the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Heir Apparent, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the performances of these two great Olympians. QAAF is committed to promoting the sport in the country. We are amazed how Mutaz performed in front of such a huge crowd (of 80,000) and won a medal. We are eyeing more glory from our athletes in the future also.”
The ceremony was also attended by Faisal Al Mansouri, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, QOC.
When Al Attiyah won the bronze in London on July 31, it was Qatar’s third overall medal at the Olympics. A few days later, Barshim bagged Qatar’s fourth medal.
Qatar’s Mohamed Suleiman was the first Qatari to win a medal at the Olympic Games, bagging a bronze in the men’s 1500m final in 1992 (Barcelona). Weightlifter Saif Assad picked up a medal at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Qatar, with a contingent of just 12 athletes, arrived in London hoping to compete and learn at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Qatar picked up two bronze medals in shooting and athletics after impressive performances by Al Attiyah and Barshim.