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So on Take me back Tuesdays, I go back to an event or place I have visited….. and this week as its a first I am going back to the Qatar Tennis Open 2008 and the Asia Games 2006. The ATP Tennis Tour (http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Tournaments/Doha.aspx) has been going on for over twenty years in Doha and I remember Andy Murray winning it before he became big. He had a decent British following however hardly anyone else had heard of him, however since that win in 2009 he has yet to win again. Below are some videos of the 2008 tournament and watching a young Andy Murray on his win his first Qatar Open with  an old turkish friend Devrim.

Past Champions
Year Draws Singles Doubles
2015 S|D David Ferrer Juan Monaco / Rafael Nadal
2014 S|D Rafael Nadal Tomas Berdych / Jan Hajek
2013 S|D Richard Gasquet Christopher Kas / Philipp Kohlschreiber
2012 S|D Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Filip Polasek / Lukas Rosol
2011 S|D Roger Federer Marc Lopez / Rafael Nadal
2010 S|D Nikolay Davydenko Guillermo Garcia-Lopez / Albert Montanes
2009 S|D Andy Murray Marc Lopez / Rafael Nadal
2008 S|D Andy Murray Philipp Kohlschreiber / David Skoch
2007 S|D Ivan Ljubicic Mikhail Youzhny / Nenad Zimonjic
2006 S|D Roger Federer Jonas Bjorkman / Max Mirnyi
2005 S|D Roger Federer Albert Costa / Rafael Nadal
2004 S|D Nicolas Escude Martin Damm / Cyril Suk
2003 S|D Stefan Koubek Martin Damm / Cyril Suk
2002 S|D Younes El Aynaoui Donald Johnson / Jared Palmer
2001 S|D Marcelo Rios Mark Knowles / Daniel Nestor
2000 S|D Fabrice Santoro Mark Knowles / Max Mirnyi
1999 S|D Rainer Schuettler Alex O’Brien / Jared Palmer
1998 S|D Petr Korda Mahesh Bhupathi / Leander Paes
1997 S|D Jim Courier Jacco Eltingh / Paul Haarhuis
1996 S|D Petr Korda Mark Knowles / Daniel Nestor
1995 S|D Stefan Edberg Stefan Edberg / Magnus Larsson
1994 S|D Stefan Edberg Olivier Delaitre / Stephane Simian
1993 S|D Boris Becker Boris Becker / Patrik Kuhnen

As you see some notable names in Tennis have won the competition, however it went through a down phase between 1995 and 2005 with only a few star studded competitors. Despite this Qatar decided to press ahead with its sporting ambitions and host the 2006 Asia Games, and therefore other sports received a much needed boost and the infrastructure in various sports were enhanced. As this is my first throw back Tuesday I thought I would include an additional piece on the Asia Games 2006, which was when i first moved to Doha as part of my Graduate Job with Bechtel. I knew little about Asia Games before moving to Doha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Asian_Games) however i was really impressed with the event and the facilities that were created for the event.

On the Corniche with a Massive Drum back in Dec 2006

On the Corniche with a Massive Drum back in Dec 2006

The main stadium of the event was the re-developed Khalifa Stadium that also contained the ‘Olympic/Asian Games Flame’

Sun Setting on the Mosque Minaret and Stadium

Sun Setting on the Mosque Minaret and Stadium

Crowd and the Flame at Khalifa Stadium

Crowd and the Flame at Khalifa Stadium

Khalifa Stadium

Khalifa Stadium

Flame of the Games at Khalifa Stadium

Flame of the Games at Khalifa Stadium

The events at the Stadium were the usual athletic type of events such as long jump and running, the level of competition was good and for once the Qatari crowd were quite into the event with decent turnouts and good support for the athletes.

Longer Jumper at Khalifa Stadium

Longer Jumper at Khalifa Stadium

5,000 M race

5,000 M race

For most Europeans they may find it funny/absurd however a lot of the Gulf countries bring in players from other countries and I will speak about this more, as I’m sure many people are talking about this at the moment regarding Qatar’s Handball team.  On the other hand if you look at say the France football team it contains many players who are ethnically not French (such as Benzema (Algerian), Nasri (Algerian), Pogba (Guinean), ) or German (Ozil (Turkish), Podolski (Poland), Khedira (Tunisian), so what is the difference between these players representing their countries and those guys representing the Gulf countries? A lot if you ask Fifa (http://www.espnfc.com/story/293645/qatar-naturalisation-plans-annoy-blatter) who subsequently changed the laws to the following – From Article 17 of FIFA Statute: Any Player who to assume a new nationality and who has not played international football shall be eligible to play for the new representative team only if he fulfills one of the following conditions: (a) He was born on the territory of the relevant Association; (b) His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant Association; (c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant Association; (d) He has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant Association. Article 17 (d) was added to FIFA Statute to address this issue of Qatar Football Association policy of scouting young players from South America and Africa and bringing them over to Qatar to represent their national team. It’s a contentious identity issue and I feel it depends on your upbringing and views on immigration. ANYWAY…. back to the Asia Games, another venue was the Aspire Dome, which had the Wrestling, Boxing and Gymnastics. The Gymnastics was really impressive and first time I had seen it to that standard so I was really amazed. Below are some of the pictures of the Gymnasts.

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Perhaps the best part of the Asia games was the unique sports that were on offer, i dont have images but my two favourite were Sepaktakraw  (kick volleyball   – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepak_takraw) and Kabaddi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabaddi) which are brilliant spectator sports and worth going to an Asia games event for. Another sport I enjoyed following was obviously football with the home nation playing Iraq in the final. In context, the fact that Iraq reached the final whilst it was in the midst of massive upheaval was really amazing. I went to watch it with two of my collogues at the time, Guillermo and Mike. Guillermo was the first Peruvian I had ever met and Mike was the first Egyptian Cristian I had ever met. People say London and New York is the melting pots of the world, however expat cities like Doha, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong from what I can tell from my experience and from friends is often where you actually get to meet people from all over the world.

wo of my collogues at the time, Mike Fahim and Guillermo Mendoza watching a football match in Gharafa

wo of my collogues at the time, Mike Fahim and Guillermo Mendoza watching a football match in Gharafa

So there you have it my take me back Tuesday double edition… Walikum As Salam… Adieu, Adieu…Stormy