ASPIRE opens doors to 15th Asian Games athletes
ASPIRE underwent something of a facelift recently as preparations to host a series of sports during December’s Asian Games were finalised and the Doha-based Academy for Sports Excellence opened its doors to international athletes, media and sports enthusiasts as its welcome guests.
The Academy, which features the world’s largest multi-purpose indoor sports dome, will be the centrepiece of the Games, providing a fitting venue for some of the finest international athletes as they compete in a range of disciplines.
Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert, ASPIRE is set in grounds covering 290,000 square metres and holds venue seating for 15,000 people. During the Games it will host world-class athletes competing in badminton, gymnastics, wushu, wrestling, kabaddi, boxing, and cycling.
It is, however, much more than a breathtaking venue for tournament action. It is primarily a nurturing ground for talented young sportspeople. Now into its third successful year of operation the ASPIRE Academy is a place of learning designed to discover, train and inspire student athletes across the region.
Dr Thomas Flock, Director General of ASPIRE, explains: “ASPIRE was designed as a beacon of sporting excellence that will inspire greater interest in sport within the community and higher levels of excellence among the next generation of athletes.
“The facilities bring out the best in our student athlete population because they are designed to offer the most advanced environment for high-performance sports, as visitors to the Asian Games will be able to see for themselves.”
The elite of Qatar’s sporting youth undergo a rigorous selection and recruitment exercise to join the Academy. Alongside intensive coaching, the students are also provided with a comprehensive academic and social education to help them develop beyond the sporting arena.
A number of ASPIRE students have already reached the level of development required to compete in this year’s Asian Games in the disciplines of swimming, gymnastics, sailing and table tennis.
ASPIRE is distinguished by a philosophy which aims to develop the whole student, providing them with full academic and sports development so that they have the widest possible range of opportunities in adult life.
The Dome, officially opened in November 2005, boasts an indoor athletics stadium, a 6,000-seater football stadium with full-sized artificial grass football pitch, a 200-metre running track, two squash courts, a gymnastics hall, an Olympic-sized swimming and dive pool and seven multi-purpose sports halls.
A number of distinguished visitors have already made ASPIRE one of their top priorities when visiting the region.
Former England football managers Sven Goran Eriksson and Glenn Hoddle recently toured the facilities as part of the build-up to the Games and expressed their admiration for the training and educational environment as well as the infrastructure itself. Other illustrious guests have included Hicham El Guerrouj, Tony Bullimore, Pele, Nadia Comaneci, Diego Maradona, Said Aouita, Ed Moses, Jacques Rogge, George Weah and Mark Spitz.
Dr. Flock said: “ASPIRE has been honoured in the past by visits from some of the world’s most famous sporting heroes and we are delighted to be adding the athletics greats of this Asian Games to this list.
“Our hope is that their performances and the unique environment provided here will inspire our student athletes to great achievements in the future.”
ASPIRE, the Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, was created with the dual aims of identifying and transforming promising student athletes into world renowned champions across a wide range of sports and to act as a beacon to draw sporting culture into the centre of life in Qatar and the surrounding region.
The Academy is distinguished by a philosophy which aims to develop the whole student, providing them with full academic, social and sporting development. Unrivalled facilities mark the Academy out as one of the world’s foremost sporting and educational institutions, and entice an ever increasing number of visitors from across the spectrum of world sports to use or simply view them. These same facilities will also play host to events during the forthcoming Asian Games 2006.
With one indoor and seven outdoor football pitches, athletics tracks, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, diving pool, combat arenas, gymnastics arena, specially designed weight rooms, lecture halls, dormitories to accommodate what will eventually become 1,000 students, a medical centre and more besides, much beneath the world’s largest purpose built indoor sports dome, every aspect of the development of elite athletes is catered for. ASPIRE is a place for those who dare to dream.
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