Exclusive: Athletics at Asian Beach Games would be successful, claims new chief

Thursday, 22 August 2013
By Nick Butler at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre

Brigadier General Dahlan Jumaan Al HamadAugust 22 - Athletics could soon appear on the programme of the Asian Beach Games, if various logistical hurdles can be overcome, the new head of the sport in the continent has revealed here. 

Dahlan Jumaan Al-Hamad, new President of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA), is keen to raise the profile of the sport after defeating long time chief Suresh Kalmadi in a narrow electoral contest last month and is currently here at the Asian Youth Games witnessing some of the sport's future stars in action.

As part of a more general desire to try new ideas he is keen to at least attempt to adapt track and field to the sand in time for the fourth Asian Beach Games in Phuket late next year.

This is despite several practical hurdles and suggestions of discontent from others.

"I do think the idea is very good and we can do something with it because, of course, many athletes train on sand," he told insidethegames.

"Some people will oppose it because it is brand new and there are practical problems relating to technical, medical and calendar issues, but there is certainly potential to invent something.

"The important thing is what the athletes want and whether it is going to be successful - my belief is yes and we will try to work with the Olympic Council of Asia to realise it."

Other sports have adapted to the Beach Games format including football here in 2012Other sports have adapted to the Beach Games format, including football at Haiyang  2012






The 2014 event in Phuket will be the fourth Asian Beach Games after previous editions in Bali, Muscat and Haiyang.

The programme currently includes beach variants of handball, volleyball, football and others alongside water based disciplines such as water-skiing, dragon boat racing and sailing.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) have already long hoped to incorporate track and field events into this schedule and OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah said earlier this week here that his organisation are "currently working to develop a unique beach event at the 2014 Asian Beach Games".

Al Hamad's words must therefore come as a boost although the AAA leader did point out that the change would neither be straightforward nor definitely occur in time for Phuket.
 
Rain could not dampen the spirits on a packed opening evening of athleticsRain could not dampen the spirits on a packed opening evening of athletics during the Asian Youth Games at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre










These words regarding the Beach Games are one form of a wider programme of change which Al Hamad hopes to introduce following the 13 year tenure by Kalmadi, the controversial Indian currently facing corruption allegations following the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The Qatari vowed that he did "not want to change everything but to work with the AAA Council in order to review and evaluate the system.

"Asian athletics certainly has great potential due to its manpower and economy.

"The businesses have advanced and most IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) sponsors are also from Asia, yet the problem is that it is hard to attract events to Asia and that is something we are trying to change.

"The Beach Games is a new and unique idea to bring our technical rules to a new area and would be a good start."

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