Doha: Top notch swimmers from across the world are vying for podium finishes at the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships that got underway at the state-of-the-art Hamad Aquatic Centre, here on Wednesday.
The five-day short-course championships is playing host to bevy of stars including 11-time Olympic medallist, American Ryan Lochte, Hungary’s leading duo, Katinka Hosszu and Daniel Gyurta, and double World Record holder Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain, among others.
Three-time Olympic medallist and Arabian Gulf hero, Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia is also in action.
“The worlds are going to be an exciting event and I hope to do well. Doha is practically my home in the Middle East now. I enjoy my trips over here,” said Mellouli, who holds the unique distinction of winning a medal in both pool and open-water swimming at the same Olympics. He achieved that feat when he won two medals (a gold in the 10km marathon and a bronze in the 1500m freestyle) at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“Winning an Olympic gold medal is without doubt something that will stay with me forever. I won the 1,500 metre freestyle in Beijing in 2008 and became the first African to ever win an individual event at the Olympics. I also won the 10km open water swimming event in London 2012 and got Bronze in the 1500 m freestyle, which made me the first swimmer in history to ever win Olympic medals in both open water and pool events,” said Mellouli, with a sense of pride.
In Doha, he is taking part in the 400m freestyle and 1,500m freestyle events.
“The 12th FINA World Swimming Championships is a premier event not just on the swimming calendar, but also on the sporting map of the world and the fact that it is being held in Doha will go a long way in boosting the sporting scenario in Arab World,” said Mubarak Al Boainin, board member - Sports Press Committee, Qatar Olympic Committee.
“The state-of-the-art Hamad Aquatic Centre brings out the fact that Doha has what it takes to host world class sporting events of this stature, including the 24th Men's Handball World Championship that will take place early next year and the FIFA World Cup scheduled for 2022.”