Al Adaam national flag was carried around the country’s most iconic landmarks, incorporating multiple sporting activities to spread a message of peace, friendship and solidarity through sport

Qatar’s sporting heroes came together on Thursday with schoolchildren and inspirational individuals to stage a unifying and patriotic Team Qatar flag relay in celebration of Qatar National Day 2017. Al Adaam national flag was carried around the country’s most iconic landmarks, incorporating multiple sporting activities to spread a message of peace, friendship and solidarity through sport.

The flag covered almost 200km across Qatar and involved over 400 participants who represented the depth and diversity of Qatar’s sporting success over recent years. Commenting on the Team Qatar Flag Relay, the Qatar Olympic Committee president HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, said: “I have been so humbled to see how the power of sport has brought our nation together through such an inspirational and patriotic flag relay today. The values of sport and the values of our nation are intrinsically linked and our Team Qatar flag relay provided a wonderful occasion to celebrate the achievements and inspirational spirit of our athletes and our country ahead of this year’s National Day. We have showcased the very best of Qatar and the very best of sport in a unifying celebration that spread the Olympic values and transmitted a message of peace, friendship and solidarity through our national flag -- a symbol of our dignity and pride. I would like to pass my thanks on to everyone that participated and contributed to making the day such a success.”

The flag relay began early in the morning at Sealine Beach in the south of the country with Qatar’s national cycling team showcasing their speed and stamina as they transported the flag in a fast-moving peloton 40km to Souq Al Wakrah. From there it travelled up to the Museum of Islamic Art by motorbike where it was handed to some of Qatar’s most successful athletes, including World and Paralympic ParaAthletics medallists, Abdelrahman Abdelqader and Sara Masoud and World Junior Weightlifting Champion and senior world silver medallist Fares Ibrahim, who all joined local schoolchildren to carry the flag on multiple legs around the Doha Corniche.

Following a stop at the Qatar Olympic Committee Tower, where secretary-general Jassim Buenain and vice-presidents Dr Thani al-Kuwari and Sheikh Saud bin Ali al-Thani, celebrated with all staff who have worked to ensure Qatar’s hugely successful sports development over recent years, the flag made its way to Katara by classic cars. From Katara, Team Qatar athletes swum, sailed and rowed across the water with the flag to Porto Arabia in the Pearl, before one of Qatar’s first-ever female Olympians, table tennis player Aya Mohamed, transported it by water taxi to awaiting jet skis at Qanat Quartier.

A short jet ski journey around the coast saw the flag arrive at Lusail City, Qatar’s newest planned smart city, which will be home to the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening and final matches. An awaiting aeroplane with pilot Ahmed Abdulrahman flew the flag high in the Qatari sky before it touched down for the flag relay’s most northern stop, Al Khor. From here, it was collected by Qatar’s motorcycling community, who led a procession to Qatar’s famous equestrian facility, Al Shaqab, in the west of Doha.

The next stop was the Aspire Park, the heart of Qatari sport and home to multiple major global sporting events over the last 10 years where it was collected by two of Qatar’s most successful male and female athletes of 2017, Mutaz Barshim and Kholood al-Khalaf. Barshim, 2017 high jump World Champion and IAAF World Athlete of the Year and al-Khalaf, who won two bronze shooting medals at this year’s Islamic Solidarity Games, ran with the flag towards the iconic Khalifa Stadium, which will host the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in less than two years, and where Mutaz Barshim will be hoping to retain his world title in front of a home crowd.

The flag was then passed to HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani who ran the final Aspire Park leg of the relay and handed it to sporting legend, Nasser al-Attiyah who this year won the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for an incredible 13th time, and also won Olympic bronze in shooting at London 2012. Nasser led his fellow rally drivers the short journey to Darb Al Saai, where they made a grand entrance to the heart of Qatar’s National Day festivities and delivered the flag to HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, who had reunited with his fellow torchbearers from the historic 2006 Asian Games Torch Relay. Hassan Matar al-Suwaidi, Marsouk Saad al-Abdallah, Abdullah al-Suwaidi, Khalid al-Amri, Hamad al-Musallam, Abdullab Aman and Khalid al-Khulaifi all had joined for the duration of the Torch Relay, which visited 15 countries and nine cities over the space of 55 days.

HE Sheikh Joaan brought together all of the day’s flagbearers and flag relay participants, Qatar’s sporting community, volunteers and hundreds of members of the public for a ceremonial and patriotic parade, followed by the raising of the flag high over Darb Al Saai to conclude the day with a unifying and celebratory grand finale.

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