World Beach Games 2019 – A milestone for QTF
The first international elite races on Qatari sand since 2006 havebeen held these past two days as part of the ANOC World Beach Games2019. The individual and team relay aquathlons organised jointly by QTFwith the International Triathlon Union (ITU) passed off flawlessly inthe face of the challenges posed by an event of this stature formingpart of a sporting festival.
This World Beach Games is also a first. It is an initiative by theAssociation of National Olympic Committees to bring a new generation ofathletes and fans together. Climbing and skateboarding are two of thesports 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 byaquathlon (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, SanDiego, was unable to continue. Consequently, our team has been workingflat out since July to deliver, and this was singled out by ITU TeamLeader, Stephane Mauris, as being worthy of special mention whenpraising the work ethic and professionalism of the local team, led byAndrej Filip and John Bonalos.
A significant aspect of this event was that Qatar provided technicalofficials (TO) – all of whom were graduates from the ITU TechnicalOfficial course run by QTF last year – to work alongside experiencedreferees from the ITU. These three races have provided an important stepforward in the development of personnel that can manage and officiatethis type of international competition. And that experience will bebrought to our local races too. Ulf Schuetze, the ITU’s TechnicalDelegate in charge of the officials, highlighted in his closing remarkshow well the international and local officials had worked together. Healso reminded TOs of the unique position they had occupied in presidingover the first ever ITU team relay aquathlon.
And the racing? 6am starts were required to nudge the watertemperatures below the ITU’s upper limit and those who made the pre-worktrip to Katara were not disappointed! Spain made it a clean sweep ofgold medals in all three events but were pushed hard by Hungary andAzerbaijan. This made for a particularly exciting finale where mixedteams 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 theindividual podiums, the relay lead switched a number of times over theeight runs and four swims, the winning margin being just twelve seconds.
The importance of the success of Qatar hosting this ITU sanctionedevent cannot be understated. We can now go forward with new confidence,experience and well-earned respect from our international governingbody.