As it is one of our aims at Aspire Academy to develop champions in sports, we are very proud of the achievements of our athletes and we continue to follow their careers after they graduate. We are delighted that some of them have already taken a further step into elite sports and in doing so have become role models for future generations. Find out more about the success stories of our most inspiring graduates.
Mutaz Essa Barshim
Sport: High Jump
Mutaz Essa Barshim was born on June 24, 1991 and is already one of the most successful track and field athletes Qatar has ever produced. In 2014 he was crowned high jump world champion at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, by clearing a height of 2.38 m and setting a new Asian record. This was just one of the results in a string of achievements in his already impressive career following the 2010 World Junior title in Moncton, Canada, Gold at the 2011 Asian Athletics Championships and 2011 Military World Games, Bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and Silver at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. The year 2014 also turned out to be a very successful one for Mutaz: Besides winning won gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland he also triumphed at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. In 2016 he won the first silver medal in Qatar’s Olympic history by showing world class performances at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Mutaz Essa Barshim was named “IAAF Athlete of the Year” in November 2017 that crowned an unbeaten season, that included also the gold medal at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. In February 2018 he triumphed at the “8th Asian Indoor Athletics Championships” in Teheran and added another Asian title to his achievements.
“The most important thing for a young athlete is to have enough time for your sport. By that I mean that getting the balance right between sport and school is a real challenge for a lot of aspiring young athletes. But at Aspire Academy it’s not an issue. You have enough time for both. Everything is so well organised, which is such an important part of success. Aspire Academy and I have been through a lot together and for me it’s like a family.”
Find more about Mutaz Essa Barshim on http://mutazbarshim.net/
Sport: Hammer Throw
Ashraf El-Seify was born on February 20, 1995 and at 1.81m and 93kg, he has the ideal physical characteristics for a great hammer throwing career. His greatest achievements to date were winning Gold medals at the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships 2012 in Barcelona, Spain with a record-breaking throw of 85.57m and then again at the 15th IAAF World Junior Championships 2014 in Eugene, USA. In the process, he became the first athlete in the history of the World Junior Athletics Championships to successfully defend his title. He also took Gold at the Asian Junior Championships 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka and finished 10th at the 2013 Asian Athletics Championships in Pune, India.
“Balancing an academic and sporting career is not always easy. But Aspire Academy allows us to do that, with lessons via the internet or special classes with teachers. It's the perfect environment in every sense and you receive exactly the kind of support you need to be able to make it at the very top level of your sport.”
Abdulla Al-Tamimi was born on December 15, 1994 and has been a member of the Qatar Squash Federation (QSF) for more than a decade. He was awarded the ‘Outstanding Asian Junior Player of the Year’ title in recognition of his superb performances in 2013 by the Asian Squash Federation (ASF). The award marks a year in which he climbed to the top of the World Junior Circuit rankings, retained his Dutch u-19 Open trophy in Amsterdam, and claimed fourth spot at the World Junior Championships in Poland.
“It‘s very important to me to maintain close ties to Aspire Academy. I spent six formative years there – the best six years of my life. It was during my sporting and academic education at Aspire Academy that all of the key foundations for my career were laid. Being allowed to carry the Academy flag at the graduation ceremony was a very proud moment for me.”
Akram Hassan Afif Afif
Akram Afif was born on November 18, 1996 and became the first Qatari play to sign up for a top European club when he joined Villarreal FC in May 2016. Being sent on loan to Sporting Gijon at the beginning of the 2016-17 season, he made his debut in a 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao on August 21 and made football history by being the first Qatari who has ever played in Spain’s top league “La Liga”.
Afif made his professional debut in European football at 18 years of age, when he joined the Belgian 2nd division team, KAS Eupen. Afif scored six goals to help KAS Eupen gain promotion to the Belgian Pro League for 2016-17 season. He re-joined the Belgians for the first half of the 2017-18 season in the first Belgian league on loan from Villarreal, before returning to his home club Al Saad to help them to play successfully in the AFC Champions League.
The forward is already celebrated as one of the most promising footballers from Qatar and won the AFC U-19 Championship in 2014, scoring the winning goal in the final against DPR Korea. He also played at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup held in New Zealand. Afif made his debut for the senior Qatar national team in September 2015 and scored in his first match. He was an integral part of Qatar’s Olympic teams that finished 4th in the 2016 AFC U-23 Championships in Qatar and 3rd and 2018 AFC U-23 Championship in China.
“Aspire Academy helps a lot of players and I am grateful for everything they did for me. Now I am very excited to be playing in Spain and I look forward to starting. I want to do something for Qatar. Playing in the Champions League is an objective for me, but first I want to help the team, that is the most important thing. It is a dream come true for me to be the first Qatari player in La Liga. I hope I can become one of the best players in La Liga for Villarreal, help Qatar ahead of the World Cup and represent the players from Aspire Academy.”
Abubaker Haydar Hassan Abdalla
Abubaker Haydar Hassan Abdalla was born on August 28, 1996 and is already one of the most promising athletes in Qatar. He chose to shine on home turf in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, as the 19 year old ran the 7th best time of the year (2016) over the 800m, not only winning the race but also qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with a time of 1.45.28. This will be his first Olympic games.
Abubaker’s performance as a student athlete at Aspire Academy over the years has pointed towards a successful athletic career ahead for him. Back in 2014, for example, he won a silver medal in the 1500m at the 2014 Asian Junior Championship in Taipei.
Abubaker also competes at 400m, 1500m and 4x400m relay and has achieved much during his already impressive athletics career, including a bronze medal at Asian Junior Championship and victory in the Asian Indoor Championships.
The evening of 6 May 2016 at Qatar Sports Club in the Doha got even better for Abubaker when he and his team mates, Abderrahman Samba, Musaeb Balla and Abdalleleh Haroun finished third in the 4x400m relay to claim bronze in the IAAF Diamond League. In February 2018, Abubaker showed an outstanding performance in the 800 Meters at the “8th Asian Indoor Athletics Championships” in Teheran and took home a gold medal for Qatar.
“My advice to my friends at Aspire Academy is that you should work hard, and don’t forget to reward yourself for all the good that you do. Aspire has positively affected my life and taught me how to balance my studies and sports. I learned how to be persistent to reach my goals and became self-reliant. I would like to tell my fellow student athletes to work hard with the respectful and dedicated Aspire staff in order to achieve their goals.”
Ahmed Bedir Magour
Ahmed Bedir Magour was born on March 3rd, 1996 and picked up the javelin for the first time at the age of twelve and has not dropped it since. Dedication and determination propelled the youngster who grew up with main stream sport like football to excel at a track and field event like javelin. Ahmed took to the throws almost naturally but settled for Javelin and driven by a strong desire to succeed he had risen to the top of the class for javelin by the time he graduated from Aspire Academy in 2015.
Ahmed benefited from his years at Aspire Academy where working with Academy coaches and Qatar Athletics Federation coaches he hone his skills and in his own words, “I found myself within reach of Olympic qualification distances and suddenly l had a target and goal to achieve”. Now back in his days at Aspire Academy, his teachers said this of Ahmed, “He is characterized by a constant pursuit of success and takes initiatives and demonstrates determination to fulfill his objectives.” These words etched in the 2015 Aspire Academy graduation book next to Ahmed came true in the first week of July 2016 at the “Häme Games” in Finland. Ahmed threw 84.74m which assured qualification to represent Qatar at Rio 2016 Olympics. With a throw of 77.19m, the 20-year-old Qatari finished 16th in Qualifying Group A in Rio. In 2017 Ahmed Bedir went on to win gold for Qatar at the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku after throwing the javelin 83.45m in the men's final.
Ibrahim Majid was born on May 12, 1990 and he currently plays as a central defender for Al Sadd and the Qatar national team. Formerly he was a striker when he played for Al Wakrah, then his coach of Al Sadd's youth team saw his ability and strength to become a central defender. He made his senior team debut for Al Sadd in 2007 against Al-Karamah SC. Majid scored one of the winning penalties in the 2011 AFC Champions League final against Jeonbuk to help Al Sadd secure the continental title for the second time in its history. He also scored against Kashiwa Reysol in the penalty shoot-out during the third-place match of the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.
Abdelkarim Hassan was born on August 28, 1993 and currently plays for Al Sadd as a defender. He also currently plays for the Qatar Olympic team and the Senior national team. He was the youngest player to appear in the 2011 AFC Champions League at the age of 17 years and where the team subsequently emerged victors of the Champions League that year.
He was awarded ‘Young Player of the Year’ by the Qatar Stars League in the 2012–13 season. He has represented Qatar in the U-20’s, Olympic and Senior teams and was part of the Qatari team that succeeded at the ‘Gulf Cup of Nations’ in 2014. He was also an integral part of Qatar’s Olympic teams that finished 4th in the 2016 AFC U-23 Championships in Qatar and 3rd and 2018 AFC U-23 Championship in China.
In the 2017-18 season he gained international experience by joining KAS Eupen in the Belgian top league for the first half of the season, playing eleven games for them in championship and cup.
QATAR U19/U20 FOOTBALL NATIONAL TEAM
On Thursday, 23 October 2014, Qatari football history was written: On this day the Qatari national junior team secured the title in the AFC U19 Championship in Myanmar, beating DPR Korea 1-0 in the final. It was only the second time after 1990 – back then it was the U16 Qatari junior team – that a Qatari youth team lifted an AFC title. Thanks to this success, the Qatari also qualified for the U20 World Cup for the first time in 33 years. This achievement was the result of hard, professional, consistent work, which was orchestrated by many parties, one of which was Aspire Academy: all 24 players on the squad for Myanmar were either graduates or current student athletes of the Academy.
There were many situations during the tournament in Myanmar when the players demonstrated their ability to keep a cool head – challenges for which their Academy careers prepared them well. “I learned so much from the Academy coaches and teachers,” says Ahmad Moein, who was also named the tournament’s MVP. “They gave me the essential skills I would need to become a professional footballer. I know that despite this achievement I’m still only at the beginning of my career and that I still have a long way to go, but I’m well prepared.”
QATAR OLYMPIC TEAM / U23
Qatar’s U23 started at the 2018 AFC U23 Championships as second youngest team of the tournament and accomplished to win the bronze medal, thanks to defeating Korea Republic 1-0 in the third place play-off game on January 26. They were the only team that did not lose a single match in the competition in regular time and extra time, only falling to Vietnam on penalties in the semi-finals.
Furthermore, Aspire Academy graduate Almoez Ali’s six goals saw the Qatar ace finish as top scorer at the AFC U23 Championship 2018. The 21-year-old Al Duhail striker and Aspire Academy graduate found the net in four of his country’s six games at the tournament, scoring twice against both host nation China PR and Palestine as Qatar finished third. Scoring in the 3-2 win over Palestine in the quarter-finals, his teammate and Aspire Academy student-athlete Hisham Ali became the youngest player ever to score at the AFC U23 Championship in all its editions with 17 years, 5 months and 2 days.
This team, coached by Felix Sanchez, played as U19 in 2014 in Myanmar, became 4th in the 2016 AFC U23 Championships in Qatar, and thereby finished in three consecutive Asian Championships as one of the top 4 teams in Asia out of 47 nations. They did this with the youngest teams in the 2014 and 2016 championships, and second-youngest in 2018. This is an outstanding achievement that none of the big Asian football nations like Japan, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Australia, or China were able to do.