The Aspire Zone Foundation’s (AZF) National Sport Day activities kicked-off in style as more than 2,000 people turned out to take part in the ‘Fun Run’ – notably one of the most popular activities of the day.
Families and individuals of all nationalities, ages and fiess levels assembled at the starting-line, gearing up for the 4km course around Aspire. Mr. Khalid Abdullah Al Sulaiteen, Aspire Zone Foundation CEO then fired the fog horn to start the race and off the crowd went while cheering and waving to the cameras.
Before sounding the horn, CEO Sulaiteen said, “National Sport Day at Aspire and in Qatar is so much bigger than just a day in which everyone participates in sporting activities. It is a day that marks both the end and the beginning of a new sporting year. This day symbolizes an important annual cycle that allows people to reflect on their past health achievements and set themselves future goals. This is what National Sport Day at Aspire is all about.”
The spirit of National Sport Day also resonated with AZF management as Director General of Aspire Logistics Abdulaziz Al Mahmoud, who joined in the celebrations by taking part in the ‘Fun Run’ said, “Due to my position at Aspire and the fact that I am part of an organization that is completely committed to the promotion of sports and healthy living, it was only right that I took part in the ‘Fun Run’. I believe it is vital to lead by example – both as a representative of Aspire and also as a Qatari national celebrating National Sport Day.”
Al Mahmoud, who exercises at least four times a week, expected to finish the run in 20 minutes, but surprised himself by shaving two minutes off his expected time. “It took me 18 minutes and I did it in 6,000 steps,” said Al Mahmoud. “I did much better than anticipated and this makes me happy because my fitness is obviously improving. When I look around at Aspire’s third National Sport Day celebrations, I am also proud to see that the public’s perception of good health and fitness is also improving.”
The winner of the ‘Fun Run’ was 28-year-old Saadaoui Lamri, a football trainer from Algeria, who had even more reason to be happy on completing the course as he also came first in the same event last year. “I am absolutely ecstatic to have won the ‘Fun Run’ for a second time. It was even better this year because the weather was just perfect,” said Lamri. “Sport to me is the base of my life because it not only keeps my body healthy but my mind and spirit healthy too. For me, Qatar’s National Sport Day is impressive and it is awe-inspiring to see the whole community gathered here at Aspire today, purely for their interest and love of sports.”
The first woman to cross the finishing line of the ‘Fun Run’ was New Zealander Janita Robson, cheered on by her two sons. “I took part in the run because I like running. Sports for me is about being healthy and fit and that is why I do it,” Robson said. As a Qatari resident of nearly five years, Robson has witnessed the community’s growing interest in National Sport Day. “I think National Sport Day is fantastic and every country should have it. Healthy living is a fantastic thing to promote and it creates a great spirit around the country,” she said. “I don’t know of any other country in the world that dedicates a whole day to sports and when you think of the cost to the country, with all the ministries and businesses closed for the whole day, it shows that the country is serious about keeping its population fit and healthy.”
Toufic Haddad, a 34-year old lawyer from Lebanon, was inspired to get fit after attending Aspire’s National Sport Day activities with his daughters last year. “My family and I took part in the ‘Fun Run’ but by the end of it, they were still full of energy while I was exhausted,” said Haddad. “From that day on, I promised myself that I would take up running and now, I try to run four times a week. This is something I simply could not have done a year ago.”
Elsewhere in the Aspire Zone, children were treated to the delights of cycling under the shade of the Torch Hotel that on Monday was lit up by power generated by 50 cyclists. The ‘Cycling the Day’ activity was held for the first time at Aspire’s National Sport Day celebrations in partnership with Aspetar and the Qatar Cycling Federation.
As part of Aspetar’s ‘Step into Health’ programme, children aged from 9 to 14 donned their helmets and safety gear to carefully maneuver around an obstacle course, marked out with traffic cones. “This is the first time that we have dedicated an event to cycling as part of Aspire’s National Sport Day activities. We wanted to encourage children to demonstrate their cycling skills in a healthy competitive atmosphere,” said Abdullah Al Sayed Al Mohannadi, Health Promotion Researcher at Aspetar. “Little boys and girls love to ride their bikes but we have found that there is a real lack of cycling events for children in Qatar and that is why we organized this cycling event today.”
Children who scored well on the challenge were honored with medals, embossed with a National Sport Day emblem, reminding them of their participation.
Meanwhile the rest of AZF National Sport Day activities saw more than 30,000 members of the public head over to Aspire Zone and participate in one of Aspire’s 14 exciting events including beach volleyball, mini-football tournaments, zumba and family boot camp.
Aspetar’s Healthy Living Department will also host a 5,000 Step Journey later in the day, inviting families to experience its ‘Step into Health’ program through a friendly, family-orientated circuit that includes 12 interactive stations, designed to educate children and their parents about the benefits of healthy eating.
In continued efforts to unite the whole community on National Sport Day, Aspire also hosted more than 20 private and governmental organizations including Ras Gas, Qatar Shell, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and the Qatar Football Association, who each held their own sporting activities. Aspire is running two competitions with prizes including an iPhone 5s, iPod, iPad and gift vouchers up for grabs.
Last year, Aspire’s National Sport Day celebrations attracted more than 25,000 Qatari residents and this year, Aspire’s third annual National Sport Day spectacular dazzled the crowds even more as Aspire Zone Foundation continues to lead the way towards healthy living in the local community.
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Amal H. Al-Sheemy
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Aspire Zone Foundation
+974-77 19 2006
Wednesday, February 12- 2014 @ 5:10 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.