By ND Prashant/Doha
Legendary pole vaulter Sergey Bubka made a brief stopover here yesterday and following a meeting with Qatar Olympic Committee’s Secretary General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, has expressed his willingness to start co-operation in sports between Ukraine and Qatar.
“I had a meeting with Sheikh Saoud and we would like to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the near future to begin an exchange of sports development programmes involving coaching and education,” said Bubka after touring the Aspire Academy yesterday.
The president of the Ukraine Olympic Committee, Bubka was in Dubai to attend the annual Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Creative Sports Award ceremony where the Ukraine Olympic Committee was honoured for being the best national committee.
Before coming to Doha, Bubka also visited Oman and a similar MoU is also planned there.
“I was in Dubai to attend the annual Creative Sports Award ceremony, when my close friend requested me to pay a visit and meet the heads of the sports associations in the region; the Oman and Doha short visits are a part of it.
“I’m impressed with the facilities here and I think we should work together and help each other,” said Bubka, who was inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federation Hall of Fame last year.
Bubka, who holds the outdoor world record of 6.14 metres set on July 31, 1994 in Sestriere, Italy and the indoor world record of 6.15 metres, set on February 21, 1993 in Donetsk, Ukraine, is also relishing the challenge as president of Ukraine Olympic Committee.
“I’m very pleased to be involved in sports administration. I always wanted to be involved in sports after I ended my career. It is of course different but the knowledge and experience as an athlete gives you a lot of advantage as an administrator,” said Bubka, adding that, top athletes should follow his footsteps.
“It is very important for athletes to be in administration. It will help develop the sport tremendously.
“Everyone has to realise that they have to give something back to the sport. I’m getting to work with the athletes and I feel privileged and -lucky to be doing that,” revealed Bubka, who has won six consecutive IAAF World Championships, an Olympics gold and broke the world record for men’s pole vaulting 35 times (17 outdoor and 18 indoor records).
So by when can we see another ace pole vaulter emerging from Ukraine ?
“We have a very good school and some good coaches. They have had some successes in the recent years. The junior world champion few years back is now the best we have in Ukraine and he did well in the World Championships. We still have the tradition of producing athletes. We have good talent and what they achieve in future is in their hands,” says Bubka, who was the first to clear 6.0 metres and the only to clear 6.10 metres (20 ft).
The president, however, was of the view that the facilities need to be upgraded in his country.
“We have the setup but the many facilities are of old type. Today we need to set up facilities like you (Qatar) have. We need to continue to develop and have sports school because the system is changed.
“We need to induct the younger generation also into coaching because we have good coaches but they are older generation. It is important to keep the success formula going in the future as well,” said Bubka, adding that, the government was supporting a lot but ‘we need to invest more in sports’.
The 49-yr-old’s son Sergey Bubka Jnr, a tennis player, was seriously injured in a fall from the third floor of an apartment building in Paris in November last year and it has been testing times for the family since then.
“My son had broken his leg and it is going to take time. These are tough times but nothing can be done. We have to go through it and hopefully, he will be fit soon,” said Bubka.