Posted on May 05, 2016

On Wednesday morning, a group of high-profile athletes participating in the IAAF Diamond Leaguevisited the world-renowned Aspire Academy, where they shared their experiences throughout their respective athletics careers with the Academy’s management, coaches and 45 of its student-athletes in the presence of some of Qatar Athletics Federations coaches as well as some Diamond League representatives.

Under the motto “Aspiring Greatness”, Aspire Academy in partnership with the Diamond League and the Qatar Athletics Federation welcomed Michelle Carter, US shot putter and 2016 World Champion, David Oliver, US hurdler and 2013 World Champion, and Derek Drouin, Canadian high jumper and 2015 World Champion on stage at the Academy’s auditorium. Having all achieved great success in their careers, the visiting athletes emphasized the importance of patience and the ability to deal with disappointment, both of which need to be developed along with athletic ability. “I finished second and third for a long time, but I did not quit. You have to be patient and work hard and some day it will pay off”, said Michelle Carter, reflecting on her gold medal in Portland in 2016.

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“I started with athletics to hang out with my friends, who were doing it. I tried triple jump, but I was very bad at it”, David Oliver remembers the start of his career. “But I did not give up, went into hurdling and had a lot of success with it. But dealing with failures is part of being an athlete.” Derek Drouin discussed his own strategy to deal with huge successes or disappointments. “After wins or failures it’s sometimes good to have a short term memory loss. That makes it easier to focus on the next competitions.”

There were many topics the student-athletes and their coaches wanted to know more about from the visiting athletes. Asked about what qualities are required to be a successful world-class hurdler, David Oliver said: “You have to take risks in any event in order to be successful. You have to be aggressive and accept that you will fall a lot.” Being asked about the most significant person in her career, Michelle Carter chose her father, a former NFL player and silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics in shot put. “He is also my coach and having him behind me really helps me a lot. He always sees my potential and keeps pushing me to be the best. Sometimes they might hurt your feelings, but these people will help you to become better athletes.”

After the panel discussion, Carter, Oliver and Drouin were joined on stage by fellow Diamond League stars AsbelKiprop, a Kenyan middle-distance runner and Olympic champion, and Belgian discus thrower Philip Milanov. Following that, Kiprop, Milanov, Drouin and Oliver conducted a one-hour coaching clinic at the Indoor Athletics Track with the Academy’s athletics student-athletes, where they presented some advice on success in athletics, as well as sharing their top tips for competition. During the session, the students also had the chance to take pictures with the official Diamond League trophy.

Markus Egger, Director of Sports, Prof. Tim Cable, Director of Sports Science and Jassem Al-Jaber, School Principal, thanked the guests on behalf of Aspire Academy for their visit.

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Aspire Academy first opened its doors in 2004 and is considered to be one of the leading sports institutes in the Middle East. The Academy offers an integrated educational programme of sports development, sports science and academic learning to boys aged 12 to 18. Specifically, the Academy’s Athletics programme focuses on developing strong, fit and technically proficient athletes, who upon graduation will pursue their athletic talent as part of the Qatar Athletics Federation Junior and Senior National Teams. Every student-athlete in the programme has a specific and structured long-term development plan that is focused on developing habits for a healthy life, achieving international standards, and representing Aspire Academy and Qatar at the international championship levels.

The IAAF Diamond League, taking place in Doha this Friday 6th of May, brings together nine reigning world outdoor champions along with some of the world’s biggest athletics stars for the opening meeting league. The IAAF meetings in the Qatari capital have long attracted the world’s elite athletes and this year is no different with 38 champions and 80 medalists from past Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships, indoors and outdoors, expected to hit the track at Qatar Sports Club on Friday evening.