Saturday, February 11, 2012

For My Valentine: National Sports Day

Forget Valentine’s Day chocolate.  How about a brisk walk? Or rousing game of tennis?

That’s what you’d be doing if you were in Doha with Bob and me on February 14:
National Sports Day is a pioneering initiative adopted by H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Heir Apparent, who issued the Emiri Decree No. 80 for the year 2011 on December 6, 2011, concerning the State’s National Sports Day. The decree states that Tuesday in the second week of February each year will be the state’s National Sports Day. (http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/181508-preparation-for-sports-day-in-full-swing.html.)

Perhaps it’s a way to stem the nutritional tide: Qatar has a dangerously high rate of diabetes.  Or a continuing effort on the part of the government to get nationals, expats and itinerants (like me) interested in the country’s ongoing bid for the 2020 Olympics.  Or maybe the HH is just really into fitness.

There are already gyms and sports clubs everywhere (including at the Pearl where Bob lives).  It’s said that the HH rides his bike in the desert and plays tennis.  Doha hosted the 2006 AFC Asian Cup and the 2011 Pan Arab Games.  And of course, there’s the 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals to be held in a (beautifully revitalized) Doha.

The Sports Day decree states all public companies are required to organize some sort of physical activity for employees who enjoy a day off. Sports Day events include a special walk for women from everywhere at Aspire Park:
Other activities include a rare tour of Qatar Olympic Committee facilities, including sports stadiums, grounds and indoor halls – all open to the public!  (Katie, Kimber and I tried to see Khalifa Stadium last December and were asked to leave…)  Look for sporting events at Qatar University, Katara Beach, the Tourism Authority and walks along the Corniche.  All public sports clubs are free to use on February 14 too.

Bob and I plan to walk the Corniche after which we’ll ride the ever-present-and-probably-enhanced-that-day wave of traffic to QOC facilities.  We’ll do lunch somewhere fun then head home - to the Pearl – together.

Most of you know I’m battling my way back to mobility after 5 months of hobbling around, courtesy of an ankle bone contusion earned in September 2011.  I’m finally back to running (in frustratingly slow, sometimes painful, fits and starts) with the April 14 Burns and McDonnell Rock the Parkway half marathon in my sights (http://www.rocktheparkway.com/).

My training will happen in Doha. Bob promises to exercise with me.

As a (Rockhurst High School) soccer star, coach and three time veteran of the Kansas City Half Marathon, Bob’s no stranger to exercise.  What makes this gym sojourn different?  Our Doha honeymoon, of course. J

That National Sports Day falls on Valentine’s Day, which happens to be my first full day back in Doha – and (JUST announced, even as Musheireb Properties is not a public company…) Bob has the whole day off!!

Coincidence?  I think not.

Check out Qatar’s Sports Day website here:  http://www.sportday.qa/.
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