Champion athletes meet champion stallions at Al Shaqab
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA AN elite group of athletes, who are in Qatar to participate in Friday’s Samsung Diamond League opener at the Qatar Sports Club, paid a visit to prestigious Al Shaqab, an iconic pure Arabian horse breeding centre under Qatar Foundation, in search of horse power they need in the Olympic year.
The athletes – 2008 Beijing Olympics double gold medallist LaShawn Merritt, reigning 800m Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo, world high jump champion Jesse Williams, former Olympic 100m winner Justin Gatlin and 2012 Olympics medal hopeful Kelly Wells - were taken around the unique facility and shown the beautiful four-legged world champions and future worldbeating potentials.
The athletes were awe-struck by the expansive Al Shaqab and its facilities, being given to horses. Initially, the athletes were a bit hesitant but once Gatlin came close to them and held the reign, all of them picked enough courage and took close-up pictures with world champion horses of Al Shaqab. Besides they were treated to some of the elegant moves by a couple of famed horses.
World high jump champion Jesse Williams commented during the Al Shaqab visit: “Whatever facilities I see in Qatar, I’m in an awe. I’m really impressed with Al Shaqab centre.
I don’t think if I’ve seen any place like this in the US. It’s an amazing place.” Also present during the tour were Al Shaqab Director Fahad al Qahtany and Al Shaqab Breeding and Show Manager Mohammad al Sulaiti. They explained about the vision and aims of the centre, besides elaborating about the system that is in place to produce purebred Arabian horses.
Talking about the role of Al Shaqab, he said, “We’ve a big responsibility towards our country and people and we’re trying to carry on the legacy. Al Shaqab itself is a heritage we want to promote and we want to tell the world about it. “But as we evolved and became a part of the Qatar Foundation, we began penetrating into diverse areas or fields. At the same time, we’re not neglecting the heritage side or social responsibility that we have,” Qahtany added.
He also informed that Al Shaqab, which is fulfilling its mission statements of being the breeder of world champion horses, has joined hands with German and French teams to develop its own teams of dressage and show jumping. “The Germans are helping our dressage team. The French are involved in our show jumping team. We’re going into multicultural environment which will open the future for us till we start developing our own (programme).” Breeding and show Manager Sulaiti said, “We breed pure Arabian horses and compete all over the world in major shows.
The 2011 year was quite significant for us. Kahil Al Shaqab became the world junior male champion and Marwan Al Shaqab got the best sire for the fifth year in a row.