A team of seven Qatari athletes, comprised of successful professionals in various fields, will attempt to swim across the English Channel between July 20 and 27 to inspire their country, and promote sports and healthy life style.
The attempt is known as one of the toughest physical challenges in the world, taking the team around 18-20 hours of swim to cover more than 34kms distance on relay basis.
The ‘Team Qatar Channel Swim,’ which comprise Dr Mohamed al-Kuwari, Dr Faleh Mohamed Ali, Dr Jamal Rashid al-Khanji, Dr Khalid al-Jalham, professor Nasser al-Mohannadi, Fahad al-Buenain and Talal al-Emadi, aims to make history by becoming the first Qataris to cross the English Channel.
All members of the team achieved great success in their careers in the fields of medicine, business, entrepreneurship, oil and gas, law and management.
Despite being amateurs, these Qatari athletes also recorded impressive results in sports competitions that require endurance such as long distance running, cycling, triathlon and Iron Man.
“There hasn’t been any amateur attempts from Qatar or any Gulf country before so we take that with a lot of pride and we are very happy to be the first to register,” Dr al-Khanji told reporters yesterday.
An established physician, entrepreneur and adventurer who started his career as a cardiac surgeon and senior healthcare executive, the 45 year-old doctor is one of the world’s top experts in the extreme sport of Spearfishing.
He also completed ‘Samla,’ an extreme 195-km race that involves running, cycling, swimming, kayaking and shooting.
The attempt will start at or near Shakespeare’s Cliff or Samphire Hoe (between Folkestone and Dover), and the aim is to finish at or near Cap Gris Nez (between Boulogne and Calais).
The team will be escorted during the swim, with an experienced pilot, captain Pete Reed, and his boat Rowena while Ryan Bowd will serve as the director and head coach.
The team’s Channel Swim coach is Tim Denyer, a world-class long-distance swimming coach, who made a successful solo crossing of the English Channel himself in 2005.
“The idea came from Dr Faleh (Mohamed Ali) who is the team manager, he was inspired by attempt from a very famous TV presenter who wanted to do it for the community and he came with that idea of ‘I am not a full time athlete, I have a full time job but I can contribute in something related to sports’”, said 34 year-old al-Buenain, a marketing and corporate communications professional.
At 52, Dr Ali will be the oldest member of the team. He played a significant role in developing the healthcare sector in Qatar over the past three decades.
“What he did is he trained and managed to cross the English channel for charity and raised 1mn pounds, which was given to children in need,” al-Buenain noted.
Dr Ali then formed a team of amateur athletes who would come together for a common goal of crossing the English Channel, “an achievement for Qatar in addition to doing something for the community to inspire.”
The hazardous waterway was conquered only by 1,484 individual swimmers and 757 relay teams during the past 143 years.
“This is one of the ultimate challenges a human can undertake, finishing it puts one's name on an elite list of individuals from across the globe and to be a member of the first Qatari team to achieve it will make it more special” Dr Ali said.
Dr al-Kuwari, a 38 year-old experienced general surgeon and bariatric surgery specialist, said they have been training for the attempt since the start of this year.
He noted that they went to Croatia for an intensive cold-water training camp before going for another training camp in England where they went through a qualifying swim for the Channel crossing.
As gold sponsors, Al Asmakh Real Estate Development and Dr Mohamed Abdulla Al Emadi Medical Group actively support the team in its new quest to cross the English Channel.