Almost 200 athletes participated in the Qatar Olympic Committee’s (QOC) ‘Shine’ athletics tournament in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. The talented young athletes were competing for the opportunity to win one of ten places on a training camp at Doha’s world-renowned Aspire Academy for Sporting Excellence, whose alumni include Qatar’s sporting hero, Mutaz Barshim.
The QOC established the Shine project to provide support and assistance to young athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds from across Rio de Janeiro and leaving a compelling legacy from the Rio 2016 Games. The QOC, Qatar Athletics Federation and Aspire Academy for Sporting Excellence partnered with Futuro Olimpico, an NGO founded by Brazil’s Olympic bronze medallist from Atlanta ‘96, Arnaldo de Oliveira, and the Rio de Janeiro Athletics Federation to organise the project.
Speaking about the vision behind the Shine project, Dr Thani Al Kuwari, Secretary General of the QOC, said:
“The Qatar Olympic Committee believes in the power of sport to change lives and we were determined to ensure that we grasp the opportunity of the Rio 2016 Games to leave a positive impact on young athletes in Rio de Janeiro. This will provide a true legacy for both Brazil and Qatar. It is our sincere hope that our Shine project will provide invaluable support for these athletes on their journeys to become Brazil’s next Olympic heroes. We look forward to following their progress as their careers develop.”
The Shine tournament was attended by several officials from Qatar including Sheikha Asma Al Thani, Marketing Director at the QOC, Mohammed Al Kuwari, Secretary General at the Qatar Athletics Federation and Dr Hazem Anabtawi, Deputy Director at the Aspire Academy. The officials were able to meet the athletes and learn more about how the project will benefit them and their future careers.
Athletes were competing across 24 events and the most notable result of the day came from 21 year old Gabriel Oliveira Constantino whose time of 10.47s in the men’s 100m was just 31 hundredths of a second short of the Olympic qualification time. Despite not qualifying on this occasion, there will be further opportunities and Gabriel’s performance won him a trip to Qatar and a place on the training camp with four other boys and five girls.
Speaking from the competition, Mohammed Al Kuwari said:
“It has been a pleasure to witness the huge amount of talent on display at the Shine Tournament today, and we pass our congratulations to all the athletes that have qualified to train in Qatar. The Qatar Athletics Federation and Aspire Academy for Sporting Excellence are committed to the global development of athletics and we hope that that these young athletes’ development and performance will be enhanced by our world-class coaching, sports science expertise and state-of the-art facilities. We cannot wait to welcome them to Doha and we hope their stay will be one to remember forever.”
In addition to yesterday’s Shine tournament, the QOC are providing further support to Futuro Olimpico, which aims to take athletics to students at Rio de Janeiro’s public schools. Proceeds from public entry fees to Bayt Qatar, the QOC’s hospitality house for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, will be donated to the NGO enabling them to buy uniforms and equipment for the athletes and for further athletes to benefit from the partnership.
Speaking about Shine, Arnaldo de Oliveira said:
“Today’s Shine tournament has been a huge success and it has been so inspiring to see athletes from Futuro Olimpico qualify for the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Doha. This will be the first time that many of them have left Brazil and the opportunity to train at the world-class facilities and experience a new culture will be essential to their development. In addition, the further donations that the QOC are providing through Bayt Qatar will amplify the support that we are able to provide to all our athletes. I am so grateful to the Qatar Olympic Committee for their partnership and support.”
Also in attendance at the Shine tournament was Brazil’s multiple World and Paralympic Champion, Terezinha Guilhermina, who will be competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this summer. The Shine Ambassador inspired the young athletes by sharing her own story of how sport transformed her life from a childhood of poverty to a sporting hero. She said:
“Sport had an amazing impact on my life. I went from being Terezinha Guilhermina, the one who dreamed, to Terezinha Guilhermina, the one who achieves her dreams. I experienced first-hand last year the impact that hosting the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships had on changing perceptions and breaking down barriers in Qatar and the Middle East. It is an honour to join forces with the Qatar Olympic Committee once again and help to show young athletes from my country that anything is possible if you work hard and don’t give up on your dreams”.
The athletes will travel to Qatar with Arnaldo de Oliveira later in 2016 for the week-long training camp. The Aspire Academy regularly hosts training camps for Asia’s most talented young athletes enabling them to enhance their development and performance through tailored and optimised training programmes. The Shine athletes will benefit from the same experience, helping to provide new knowledge and expertise that will support their future training programmes.
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