Qatar tasted mixed fortunes at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Monday. The beach volleyball pair Ahmed Tijan & Cherif Younousse cruised into the semi-finals but the volleyball team’s gold medal hopes were cut short ruthlessly by Iran.
Tijan and Younousse, the defending champions and bronze medallists at the Tokyo Olympics, had a comfortable 21-17, 21-9 win over Iran’s Bahman Salemi and Sina Shoukati 21-17, 21-19 at Ningbo Banbianshan Beach Volleyball Centre in the quarter-finals.
The Qatari duo will meet Kazakhstan’s Sergey Bogatu and Dmitriy Yakovlev on Tuesday in the semi-finals, which is scheduled at 12pm Qatar time.
But the spikers were in for a rude awakening on Monday, as the two-time defending champions Iran swept past them 3-0 (25-20, 25-20 and 25-22) at the Linping Sports Centre. Iran’s Amirhossein Esfandiar had 14 kills, two blocks and three aces to top the scoring chart with 19 points. Iran reaped 41 points from attacking, compared to 32 for Qatar. Iran, who will meet China in the final, also led in aces at six to Qatar’s one. FIVB Challenger Cup silver medallists Qatar still will have a shot at a medal though as they face off against World No. 3 Japan in the bronze medal play off. The second string Japan side slumped to a straight-sets loss to China 25-15, 25-20, 25-21.
There was disappointment elsewhere as Qatar swimmers, shooters and tennis players put up below-par performances, while Judoka Khalil Rebahi was knocked out in the last 16 by South Korea’s Joonhwan Lee 10-0. In the 10m Running Target, Mohamed Haq finished 15th while Mohamed Abouteama was 17th out of 18 competitors. In the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men’s qualification, Abdullah al-Obaidli shot 545 to finish in 27th place.
Shooters in action on Tuesday as Al-Attiyah guns for gold
On Tuesday, London Olympics bronze medallist Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah will be in action in the skeet event along with his fellow shooters Rashid al-Athba and Masoud al-Athba. Al-Attiyah was optimistic of returning with a medal, with the final of the skeet event slated for tomorrow. Al-Attiyah has won two gold medals in team skeet at the 2002 Busan and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. The 52-year-old – also a rally legend – now wants to clinch his third gold in Hangzhou.
“The competition will be strong, and the most prominent competitors are Kuwait, China and Chinese Taipei. But we are strong at the team level and we hope that we will be successful,” said al-Attiyah on Monday.
“The weather seems to fluctuate between humidity and rain, but that will not affect the focus of our team members,” he added.
The women’s shooters will also be in action on Monday. Reem al-Sharshani, Sarah Ghulam, and Hajar Ghulam will hope for a medal in the skeet event, while Noora al-Mutawa and Nasra Mohamed are competing in the 25m pistol. In the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event, Ali al-Muhannadi and Matara al-Aseiri carry Qatar’s hopes.
Meanwhile, Abdulla al-Tamimi is targeting a medal as he spearheads Qatar’s squash team’s challenge. They face Pakistan and India in their Group A matches on Monday. “It has always been a dream of mine to stand on the podium at the Asian Games. I have worked hard over the past few years and I hope to make everyone in Qatar proud,” al-Tamimi, who reached a career-high 17 on the world rankings before injury cut short his season last year.
The basketball team faces a tough opening fixture against Japan on Monday. Qatar are in Group D in basketball, with South Korea and Indonesia their other opponents. The 3x3 basketball team begins its campaign on Monday by facing Thailand, with matches against Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan slated in the coming days.
Tomorrow, Qatar’s U-23 football team will face off against China in the last 16 match.
The Al Annabi were poor in the group stages, losing to Japan and were held by Palestine, but have managed to squeeze through to the knockout stage.
Qatar’s Ahmed Tijan (right) and Cherif Younousse celebrate after winning their beach volleyball quarter-finals against Iran’s Bahman Salemi and Sina Shoukati at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Monday.
Qatar and Iran volleyball players in action during the semi-final match at the Linping Sports Centre in Hangzhou on Monday.