World Beach Games 2019 – A milestone for QTF
October 16, 2019
The first international elite races on Qatari sand since 2006 have been held these past two days as part of the ANOC World Beach Games 2019. The individual and team relay aquathlons organised jointly by QTF with the International Triathlon Union (ITU) passed off flawlessly in the face of the challenges posed by an event of this stature forming part of a sporting festival.
This World Beach Games is also a first. It is an initiative by the Association of National Olympic Committees to bring a new generation of athletes and fans together. Climbing and skateboarding are two of the sports yet to feature in an Olympics and they take place alongside ‘beach’ versions of more familiar Olympic disciplines such as wrestling, football, handball and basketball. Our sport was represented by aquathlon (run 2.5km, swim 750m, run 2.5km) and 2×2 team relay aquathlon (run 1.25km, swim 500m, run 1.25km repeated twice by each athlete).
Qatar Olympic Committee stepped in after the original host, San Diego, was unable to continue. Consequently, our team has been working flat out since July to deliver, and this was singled out by ITU Team Leader, Stephane Mauris, as being worthy of special mention when praising the work ethic and professionalism of the local team, led by Andrej Filip and John Bonalos.
A significant aspect of this event was that Qatar provided technical officials (TO) – all of whom were graduates from the ITU Technical Official course run by QTF last year – to work alongside experienced referees from the ITU. These three races have provided an important step forward in the development of personnel that can manage and officiate this type of international competition. And that experience will be brought to our local races too. Ulf Schuetze, the ITU’s Technical Delegate in charge of the officials, highlighted in his closing remarks how well the international and local officials had worked together. He also reminded TOs of the unique position they had occupied in presiding over the first ever ITU team relay aquathlon.
And the racing? 6am starts were required to nudge the water temperatures below the ITU’s upper limit and those who made the pre-work trip to Katara were not disappointed! Spain made it a clean sweep of gold medals in all three events but were pushed hard by Hungary and Azerbaijan. This made for a particularly exciting finale where mixed teams of one woman and one man took it in turns to complete the course… twice! Despite Spain having a combined gap of 32 seconds on the individual podiums, the relay lead switched a number of times over the eight runs and four swims, the winning margin being just twelve seconds.
The importance of the success of Qatar hosting this ITU sanctioned event cannot be understated. We can now go forward with new confidence, experience and well-earned respect from our international governing body.