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BESIDES parading an array of stars including Olympic and world champions, the 10th FIG Individual Apparatus World Cup for men and women will also serve as yet another proof of Qatar’s remarkable ability to organise top international competitions.

Considered as a blue riband event of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation (QGF), the four-day competition, featuring more than 100 competitors from 31 countries, starts at the Aspire Dome on Wednesday. The finals will be held on Friday and Saturday.

The Doha leg is celebrating its 10th edition this year which, in itself, is a creditable achievement considering that gymnastics is a low-profile sport in the country. But it has seen a massive growth in the last decade, thanks to the QGF’s various programmes at schools and at their Khwala and Luqta training centres.

“We want to have a bigger talent pool and produce some quality gymnasts. The World Cup is one of those events on our calendar which has encouraged several youngsters to take up the sport in the last one decade,” QGF President Ali Ahmed Al Hitmi told Doha Stadium Plus.

Al Hitmi thanked the FIG for reposing its faith in Doha, which first hosted the event in 2008.

“It’s a great feeling to complete 10 editions this year. The event also helped us win the bid for next year’s World Championships. I thank the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani for their support to promote the sport. It wouldn’t have been possible to organise such a huge event without FIG’s guidance too,” said Al Hitmi. 

In fact, the QGF’s decade-long experience and excellent infrastructure at the Aspire Dome were important factors that earned them the right in 2013 to host the World Championships.

“This event and next year’s edition in March will further boost our confidence to host the Worlds in 2018,” he added. 

Qatar has proposed to organise the event at the Aspire Dome between October 12 and 28, but the dates have yet to be confirmed.

Al Hitmi, however, lamented the lack of talent pool in the country.

“We’re trying hard to engage school students through our various age-group championships, but the gymnasts are very few in number. We train them and despite our best efforts to retain them, they leave the sport. Most of them take up football which offers incentives and job security,” he said. DSP

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