Doha set to host 9th Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup

Doha set to host 9th Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup
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Published March 17th, 2016 - 15:11 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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President of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation Ali al-Hitmi (third right) along with other officials at the announcement of the 9th Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Challenge Cup, which will be held at the Aspire Dome from March 24th to 26th (source: Gulf Times)
President of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation Ali al-Hitmi (third right) along with other officials at the announcement of the 9th Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Challenge Cup, which will be held at the Aspire Dome from March 24th to 26th (source: Gulf Times)
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A host of top gymnasts will take the centre stage at the 9th Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup, which will kick-off at the Aspire Dome next week.

The three-day event, to be held from March 24 to 26 and organised by the Qatar Gymnastics Federation, will assume greater importance for the gymnasts, as it will give them an idea about their preparation ahead of this year’s Rio Olympics.

The event carries a prize money of $50,000, with over 100 gymnasts from 33 countries in action. “We are ready to deliver another world class competition which unarguably is rated as one of the best gymnastics events in the world,” said Ali al-Hitmi, President of Qatar Gymnastics Federation (QGF), at a press conference.

“The best gymnasts from all over the world are coming to Doha and the QGF is set to host the event successfully once again,” added al-Hitmi, who is also the executive committee member of the International Gymnastics Federation.

Usually, Doha hosts the first round of the World Challenge Cup but this year the opening round was held in Baku. Azerbaijan.

Qatar’s challenge will be led by three young gymnasts, Farah Tariq, Mahmoud al-Saadi and Ahmad al-Dayani. Al-Hitmi said Qatar could have fielded more gymnasts, if not for injuries to some.

“We are just fielding the gymnasts who we feel are ready for the tough competition. Some of our gymnasts are not fully fit and we cannot take risk by fielding in this competition,” the QGF president noted.    

The international field will be led by Olympic stars, which includes two-time Olympian Catalina Ponor of Romania. The 28-year-old Ponor won three gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics on balance beam, floor and as part of the Romanian team. At the last Olympics in London in 2014, she earned a silver medal on floor and a team bronze. She is also a multiple World and European Championship medallist.     

Among men, China’s Zou Kai will be a star attraction. The 28-year-old gymnast won three gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Four years later in London, he won two more gold medals and one bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games.

He was also part of the Chinese team that won gold at the 2006 World Championships and the 2006 Asian Games.

Brazil’s Diego Hypolito, the two-time bronze medallist on Floor Exercise in World Cups in Japan 2011 and China 2014, will be the star attraction.

“Over the years, this event has seen big names in action and that has helped building Doha’s reputation as a major venue for hosting mega sports events,” said al-Hitmi.

“The QGF is deeply committed to assure the prosperity of gymnastics in the country and to support the vision of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) in bringing the world together through sport.”   

Meanwhile, Cuba will make its debut in Doha, with Manrique Larduet Bicet, an rising star set to be in action. The 20-year-old has been making waves in the world of gymnastics, with triumphs in the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games 2014 Veracruz.

© Gulf Times Newspaper 2015

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