WATCH: Qatar and the Olympics, a history of applaudable participation
When Qatari athletes and officials march behind the maroon and broad white serrated band flag at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo tonight, it will be the tenth successive occasion the country will be making its appearance at the quadrennial Summer Games.
Qatar is being represented in Tokyo by Mutaz Essa Barshim (Men's high jump), Abubaker Haydar Abdalla (Men's 800m), Femi Ogunode (Men's 100m), Adam Ali Musab (Men's 1500m), Abdirahman Saeed Hassan (Men's 1500m), Abderrahman Samba (Men's 400m hurdles), Bashair Obaid Al Manwari (Women's 100m), Ashraf Amgad El Seify (Men's hammer throw).
Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan qualified for the men's beach volleyball event, while Fares Ibrahim will be representing Qatar in the –96 kg category in weightlifting. Tala Abujbara will feature in the women's single sculls event of rowing, while in Judo, Ayoub Elidrissi will compete in the men's −66 kg.
In swimming, Qatar is represented by Abdulaziz Al Obaidly (Men's 200 m breaststroke) and Nada Arakji (Women's 50 m freestyle), while Mohammed Al Rumaihi will be representing the country in the Men's trap event of shooting.
You can follow Qatar's participation in Tokyo from the schedule highlighted here.
Qatar made its Olympics debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, where the football team stunned the world by holding France, the eventual gold medalist, to a 2-2 draw in the opening match of Group A, with Khalid Salman Al-Muhannadi scoring both goals for Qatar. Since then, it has consistently made its appearances felt at the Olympics.
While arguments can be made in some quarters that Qatar's overall medal haul of one silver and four bronze medals seem negligible, the reality in its true sense is that the country has done relatively well on all fronts.
No matter how one looked at it, the fact remains that Qatar has performed more than expected considering the size of its population, under three million, which puts a constraint on its talent pool compared to some larger countries.
For example, Qatar's medal record is better than countries like Sudan, whose silver medal in the men's 800 m in Beijing 2008 is the first and only medal it had recorded since 1960 when it first participated in the competition.
The same can be said of Ghana (4 medals from 14 appearances), Cyprus (1 medal from 10 appearances), Ecuador (two medals from 14 appearances), and even Iraq (one medal from 14 appearances), among others.
Additionally, Qatar could be considered the most successful country at the Olympics from the region when it comes to the total medal counts. Its overall haul of five medals dwarfs that of Saudi Arabia (three medals from 11 appearances), the UAE (two medals from nine appearances), Bahrain (three medals from nine appearances) and Kuwait (two medals from 12 appearances). Oman, who made its maiden appearance alongside Qatar in 1984, are yet to register any medal at the Olympics.
Qatar's most successful outing at the Olympics was at the 2012 London Games when Mutaz Barshim and Nasser Al Attiyah won bronze medals in high jump and shooting. There is, however, high hopes in the air that the silver and bronze will finally be turned into gold this time around as all the 16 Qatari representatives expectedly leave their blood, sweat, and tears out on the sporting arena in Tokyo.
Historically, while Qatar first featured in 1984 with Waheed Khamis Al-Salem being the first flag bearer, its first medal did not come until Barcelona 1992, when Mohamed Sulaiman finished third in the men's 1,500 metres.
In 2000, Qatar's second medal came courtesy of Said Saif Asaad whose performance in the Men's 105kg weightlifting event was good enough to earn him and the country a bronze.
The country's participation at London in 2012 marked its eighth appearance in the Summer Olympics since its début at the 1984 Summer Olympics. The Qatari delegation consisted of twelve athletes in athletics, shooting, swimming and table tennis. The 2012 Games also marked the first time Qatar sent female athletes to the Olympic Games. Noor Al Malki became the first Qatari woman to compete in an Olympic athletics competition at the event.
Seven of the twelve competitors automatically qualified for their respective events, while the remaining five athletes got wild cards to partake in the Games. This was Qatar's most successful Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games, winning two Olympic medals. Skeet shooter Nasser Al Attiyah, and high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim both won bronze medals in their respective sports for the first time.
The 2016 Rio Games witnessed Qatar's largest-ever delegation to the Olympics. A total of 38 athletes, 36 men and two women, were selected to the Qatari team across ten different sports, roughly more than a triple of its entire roster size at London 2012.
Qatar marked its Olympic debut in equestrian jumping and judo, as well as its return to weightlifting after 12 years.
The Qatari team was highlighted by two of its prominent athletes and Olympic bronze medalists from the previous Games: high jumper and current Asian record holder Mutaz Essa Barshim, and skeet shooter Nasser Al Attiyah. They attended his sixth Games as the oldest and most experienced competitor (aged 45).
Qatar left Rio de Janeiro with a historic silver-medal feat by Barshim, upgrading his bronze from London four years earlier.
Meanwhile, Al Thani and hammer thrower Ashraf Amgad Elseify narrowly missed out of the podium to join with Barshim on the nation's medal tally, finishing among the top six in their respective sporting events.
Now with Tokyo in sight, history beckons on Qatar in Tokyo. Will the country eventually strike gold and add to its medal tally? The answer will be got in less than 20 days, precisely by August 8, when the curtains are finally drawn on one of the most "unusual" Olympics in history.
Till then, Mabrook Qatar!!!
Instagram - @qatarliving
Twitter - @qatarliving
Facebook - Qatar Living
YouTube - qatarlivingofficial
Cover Image Credit: Team Qatar