Four world-record holders and 13 Olympic medalists from Brazil will be among the 140 international swimmers competing in this weekend’s FINA Swimming World Cup in Doha.
The fifth edition of the annual event starts tomorrow, Oct. 8 at the Hamad Aquatic Center and runs through Sunday.
It will feature a 16-member Qatari team, who average just 15 years old in age.
In addition to new competitors, Qatar’s team will include Nada Arakji.
This summer in Rio de Janeiro, the 21-year-old became the first Qatari swimmer to take part in two Olympic tournaments following her 2012 debut in London.
Just months after her participation in Brazil, where she swam the women’s 100m butterfly, Arakji will compete in the FINA event for the third year in a row.
Joining her will be fellow Olympic team mate Noah Al Khulaifi, who is back in training after competing in the men’s 100m backstroke in Rio.
The 17-year-old will actually be one of three Al Khulaifi brothers who plan to compete this weekend.
The other two are his younger siblings: Yacob, 15, and Yousef, who at 11 years old is the younger member of Qatar’s team.
Other Qataris set to compete in the FINA event include Mohamed Mohammed (13), Yousef Mohamed (14), Abdulaziz Al Obaidly (15) and Mesalam Al Nabet, who is also 15.
Al Obaidly is another young Qatari talent to watch, as the current national record holder for the 100m and 200m backstroke.
In a Qatar Olympic Committee statement, Al Obaidly said he was looking forward to this year’s event.
“Last year was a great experience for me and I’m always looking to learn more. Competing in front of my friends and family feels amazing, it gives me an extra boost to do all that I can during a race.”
Also competing for Qatar will be 17-year-olds Abdulrahman Al Kuwari and Naser Yaser.
Khalil al Jabir, president of the Qatar Swimming Association (QSA), said in a statement:
“We are pleased that so many young Qataris are competing in this year’s World Cup. This shows how Qatari swimming continues to go from strength to strength and it is events like this that help to develop and grow swimming in Qatar.”
The FINA world cup is a series of two-day meets held in nine different locations between August and October each year.
This year, some 36 events will take place, with the races in 25m pools. Total prize money for the world cup is nearly $2.2 million.
The Qatar races follow just days after the event in Dubai.
One of the highlights of the weekend will be the chance to see four Olympic gold medalists competing in Doha.
They are: Rie Kaneto from Japan, who won the 200m breaststroke; Australian Brittany Elmslie who competed in the 4x100m freestyle relay; Katie Melli from the US who was part of the 4x100m medley relay and won bronze in the 100m breaststroke; and Katinka Hosszu, who won three golds and one silver in Rio.
It’s Hosszu who is tipped to again be named overall winner of this year’s event, after taking the title every year since 2012.
She will be challenged by Alia Atkinson (27) from Jamaica, who is in third place in the world cup rankings.
The men’s races will likely be led by South Africans Chad Le Clos, who took two silver medals for the 200m Freestyle and 100m butterfly at Rio; Roland Shoeman and Cameron Van Der Burgh.
Le Clos also has great form in previous FINA tournaments in Qatar. As reigning swimmer of the year, he won gold in the 50m and 100m butterfly events last year.
Russia’s Vladimir Morozov is currently top of the world cup rankings and , as a multiple- Olympic medalist, is another one to watch.
The heats take place in the mornings, from 10am while the finals are held from 6pm daily. A schedule of the races can be found on QSA’s website.
Tickets cost QR20 for each session and can be bought online through Q-Tickets.