• Qatar’s beach volleyball duo Younousse and Tijan begin their campaign today.
Doha: It may not be easy for Qatar’s Cherif Younousse to let go of the memories of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Younousse and his partner Jefferson Santos Pereira were one of Qatar’s medal hopes five years ago. But, perhaps, bogged down by the pressure of competing in the world’s biggest sporting event in their maiden appearances they failed to reach the beach volleyball podium.
The Rio Games ended on a disappointing note for 21-year-old Younousse, as he and his partner finished ninth after two wins and two losses. Since that disappointment of five years ago, Younousse has a new partner – Ahmed Tijan – and the pair has taken big strides in the sport, having firmly established as one of the medal contenders at the Tokyo Olympics.
“For me, it’s very important to go back to the Olympics and perform better than I did at the previous Olympics,” Cherif said before leaving for Tokyo. Younousse and Tijan, the third seeds in Tokyo, have medalled at more FIVB World Tour than any other team this year and will attempt to become the first team from Middle East to win medal in Olympic volleyball history. The pair has played finals of the last five World Tour events out of five and emerged champions in two.
Talking about their chances at the Tokyo Games, the 26-year-old Younousse sounded confident. “This time I am with a different partner, but it’s much better. I think we can do well at the Olympics and we are going for the medals,” he said.
Younousse and Tijan are grouped with World No 5 Jacob Gibb and Taylor Crabb of the United States, World No 18 Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi of Italy and World No 19 Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson of Switzerland. The Qatari pair will start their campaign against Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson at Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park today at 11am.
Twenty-four teams are divided into six pools of four teams each. The top two teams from each group and the four best third-placed teams from across the six pools qualify for the last 16. The Qatari pair could face a challenge from top seeds and world number one ranked pair Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway, who are also aiming to turn their success on the World Tour into Olympic gold. Since 2018, Mol and Sorum have claimed 13 gold medals in world tour events and won the 2019 world championship.
The Norwegian pair began their quest to deliver Norway’s first Olympic medal in the sport with a 21-18, 18-21, 15-13 victory over Australia’s Christopher McHugh and Damien Schumann yesterday. Younousse and Tijan had lost back-to-back finals to the Norwegian pair at FIVB Word Tour 4-star event at the Cancun Hub. Beach volleyball at Tokyo 2020 is due to run through to August 7.
Judoka al-Idrisi in action today
Ayoub al-Idrisi will make history today becoming the first Qatari judoka to feature in Olympics. The judo competition will be held at Nippon Budokan Complex and al-Idrisi will compete in U-66kg category.
Meanwhile, rower Tala Abujbara was in action yesterday for a second consecutive day and finished third in women’s single sculls (repechages) with a time of 8:16.88. She failed to qualify for the quarter-finals and will be in action today in the semi-final E/F, which is a classification race.
Star weightlifter Fares Ibrahim and swimmer Abdulaziz al-Obaidly joined the national contingent in Tokyo yesterday.
Beach Volleyball GROUPS
Group A: Mol A./Sorum C. (NOR), Semenov/Leshukov (ROC), Herrera/Gavira (ESP), McHugh/Schumann (AUS)
Group B: Krasilnikov/Stoyanovskiy (ROC), Perusic/Schweiner (CZE), Plavins/Tocs (LAT), Gaxiola/Rubio (MEX)
Group C: Cherif/Ahmed (QAT), Gibb/Crabb Ta. (USA), Carambula/Rossi (ITA), Heidrich/Gerson (SUI)
Group D: Alison/Alvaro Filho (BRA), Brouwer/Meeuwsen (NED), Lucena/Dalhausser (USA), Azaad/Capogrosso (ARG)
E - Fijalek/Bryl (POL), Evandro/Bruno Schmidt (BRA), Grimalt M./Grimalt E. (CHI), Elgraoui/Abicha (MAR)
Qatar’s Cherif Younousse (left) and Ahmed Tijan are confident of a podium finish at Tokyo Games.