Doha (QAT), 31 July 2014: Three-time Olympic medallist Oussama Mellouli is preparing for his role as official ambassador for the upcoming FINA/ MASTBANK Swimming World Cup 2014 – Doha and the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), both of which will be hosted at the Hamad Aquatic Centre in Doha this year. The reigning 5 km World Champion, from Tunisia, is widely heralded as the greatest swimmer the MENA region has ever produced and at the 2008 Olympic Games, he became the first Arab male swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual swimming event.
His appointment as ambassador is part of Qatar’s commitment to supporting emerging talent in the region and helping to inspire the next generation of star swimmers. In his role, Mellouli will spend time in Doha ahead of the FINA World Cup 2014 – Doha and the FINA World Swimming Championships, working with young swimmers from Qatar and around the world ahead, sharing his experiences and passion for the sport.
Mellouli will play a key role in the FINA World Swimming Championships Youth Programme which will see the top two swimmers aged 14-16 from each competing nation hosted at the event. The Youth Programme gives young swimmers valuable exposure to a major international championship, the opportunity to train with the world’s leading coaches as they continue to hone their talent, and a chance to meet their swimming heroes. Designed to inspire and motivate future World Champions and Olympians of the sport, Mellouli is the perfect ambassador for the programme.
Commenting on his appointment ahead of the FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup which takes place August 27-28, Mellouli said: “When I was younger we didn’t have world-class training facilities in the region that are capable of hosting major championships like we see in Qatar today – I went to the USA to train. It’s important to me to be supporting the development of Arab talent in swimming, sharing my own experiences and using the facilities we have here in the region to do that. With a World Cup and a World Championships being hosted in Qatar this year it’s crucial that we use the power of those events to inspire talent and leave a legacy for the sport. Swimming has changed my life and I’m excited to support young people around the region on their own journeys.”
Mellouli went into brief retirement from professional swimming after the London 2012 Olympic Games but has since returned to competition. He added: “After London 2012, I thought I didn’t want to swim anymore but the sport has given me so much and I still feel like I have a lot achieve in the pool. With the World Cup just a few weeks away and taking place in a region I hold close to my hear, I’m looking forward to getting back into the pool in Doha and competing against the world’s best. It’s going to be a tough competition and everyone works hard, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
The Tunisian, who won 15 gold medals at the 2011 Arab Games in Doha, has already highlighted his dedication to developing the sport of swimming in Qatar. Earlier this year he announced plans for an academy for young swimmers in partnership with Qatar Olympic Committee and the Qatar Swimming Association. The Oussama Mellouli Swimming Academy will give swimmers from Qatar and the wider Arab world a place to train and excel under the direction of one of the greatest swimmers of the region.
For the first time in FINA’s history the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) will be staged in Doha, showcasing the country’s growing commitment to swimming and building further Qatar’s proud record as a successful host of major international sporting events. The international event will take place at the Hamad Aquatic Centre, a facility at the heart of Doha Sports City which has previously held the 2006 Asian Games and the 2013 FINA Swimming World Cup.
Doha will play also host to the FINA Swimming World Cup, Doha (August 27-28th, 2014) as well as the 3rd FINA Aquatics Conference (November 29th- December 01, 2014) directly ahead of the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships on 3-7, 2014.
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This is an unedited press release.