Last long weekend, Sonya and I decided to head to the Arab Games that are currently held in Doha. While it was previously 15 QAR for full day tickets, it was announced half way through the tournament that all events would be free (to attract spectators we assumed). A little after midday on Saturday we arrived at the Aspire Zone, a sports city originally built for the 2006 Asian Games, it features well known Khalifa Stadium, and also Aspire Dome and Hamad Aquatic Centre.
On arrival we realised we were a little too early, there was nobody else in sight (well, except for the copious numbers of volunteers), and all stadiums and sports halls were empty. We walked around for a little before deciding to have a quick bite, bypassing time before the wrestling commenced.
Greco-Roman wrestling is a hand-to-hand combat between two men with emphasis on throws. I had briefly seen this style of wrestling on tele back when the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games were on, but seeing it live was much more entertaining. There is an interesting phase of the match when one man will be on hands and knees and the other man tries to perform an Olympic Lift from behind.
The wrestling was also made somewhat more entertaining by a loud, elderly, Iraqi supporter wearing the full Iraqi green and white tracksuit, red and white Keffiyeh (traditional Arabic Turban) and playing a darbukah (traditional Arabic drum).
Not the first sport that comes to mind, but is a recognised sport of the International Olympic Committee, even more appropriately, chess has origins from Persia where it was known as Shatranj. I convinced Sonya to check out the chess games, and as imagined it wasn’t very exciting, we stayed for no more than five minutes.
Back to real sports, the boxing started with the Light Fly Division, a weight class for men under 49kg, the rounds were fast paced and enjoyable. Again, the loud Iraqi supporter was there, and caused quite a commotion when Iraq was announced the winner during a very close match.
After boxing we made the short walk from Aspire Dome to Khalifa Stadium. Having attended football games there previously, it was nice being able to simply walk into the entrance and sit at the closest seats as there weren’t many other people, on the field was discus, high-jump, long-jump, pole-vault and 200m running.