12/01/2022
As Qatar is set to host the FIFA World Cup from Sunday (November 20) many are curious to know as to who is the biggest sports star in the country and there is only one answer to it and it goes by the name of Nasser Al Attiyah.

For the layman’s knowledge, Al Attiyah is a multi-sports icon who wears different hats — he is a four-time Dakar Rally champion, has won a bronze medal in skeet shooting in 2012 London Olympics, rides powerboats, coaxes a horse and also tries some archery in his farm house.

There is even a chapter on him in the history books of Qatar’s school books.

Ever since he was a child, Al Attiyah had been dreaming of winning the most-gruelling off-road event of all times. And now, in a span of 12 years, the Qatari sports icon has accomplished his mission four times nonchalantly.

Qatar’s superstar

The 51-year-old’s accomplishments speak for himself – four Dakar titles, 17 Middle East Rally Championship wins, two FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies crowns and as many titles in the support category of World Rally Championship (WRC) and add to that, his recent maiden FIA World Rally-Raid (W2RC) Championships crown.

Be it sand, gravel, rocks, mountain or desert, there is no one to beat the ace Qatari driver who has mastered them all with elan!.

Bull’s eye

The 2012 Asian Shooting Championship, which was the last qualifying event for London Olympics was the scene of his historic feat. As the defending champion in 2012 Dakar Rally, Al Attiyah pulled out of the event, apparently due a break down during the ninth stage between Antofagasta and Iquique in Chile.

However, he later admitted that he purposely pulled out to make it to the Asian qualifying event. What happened next is as they say history! Al Attiyah flew down to Qatar from Chile the next day and accomplished his task with a world record-equalling score of 150/150 to win a quota for his country and joined an elite band of shooters to have hit all their targets.

Trailblazer

At the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games also he did the unthinkable. He had just finished the Cyprus Rally and without even proper practice, straightaway headed to the Chinese city, with his brother (also a shooter) carrying his gun from Doha to Guangzhou.

A gold medal in skeet shooting was the end reward! Despite all his achievements, he has been very down to earth and honours every media commitment.

Media commitments

The first time yours truly came to know about him, he was addressed to me as the Sachin Tendulkar of Qatar by my colleague and I truly stick by it. The ace Qatari makes it a point to attend each and every call and even when he misses out on answering them, especially in between events, he returns the call back with his trademark “How are you brother” response, which makes you feel comfortable as this journalist has found it out many times.

And as the stage is set for Qatar 2022 kick off, let us salute this champion nonpareil, who is as comfortable behind the wheel as he is behind the barrel of a gun!