By Emily Goddard

Schoolchildren participating in Qatar’s Schools Olympic Programme show their support for Doha’s bid to host 2019 IAAF World Championships ©Doha 2019Qatari youths participating in the Schools Olympic Programme (SOP) have thrown their support behind the Doha bid to host the 2019 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships with just days to go to the host city vote.

Should athletics' world governing body select the Qatari capital as the stage for its showpiece event in five years' time when it votes on November 18, it would mark the competition's first time in the Middle East.

It would also mean a lot to potential future world title winners, such as 16-year-old Abdulla al-Kubaisi, who is competing in this year's SOP athletics competition.

"I would absolutely love to see the World Athletics Championships come to Doha," he said.

"It would be amazing to watch athletes like Mutaz Barshim [world indoor high jump champion] competing in front of a home crowd but also to see all of the best athletes from around the world.

"This would really inspire me to keep competing in athletics and achieve my dream of representing Qatar in the future.

"I love athletics and I really enjoy competing in the Schools Olympic programme.

"I hope I will win a medal for my school this year and I hope that Doha will win the 2019 World Championships."

This year sees the launch of the eighth edition of the SOP, and the introduction of taekwondo, bringing the total number of sports in the programme, which also includes Para-athletics, to 14.

Students will participate in competitions throughout the school year, with successful athletes qualifying for the finals held annually in March at the Aspire Dome in Doha.

The schoolchildren would love to see the likes of Mutaz Barshim competing on home turf at the 2019 IAAF World Championships ©Getty ImagesThe schoolchildren would love to see the likes of Mutaz Barshim competing on home turf at the 2019 IAAF World Championships ©Getty Images

More than 26,000 students, aged between five and 18 years old, from 461 schools participated in last year's edition.

"The Schools Olympic Programme has become a main partner of sport federations and clubs in discovering talented athletes, boys and girls, who will be the future foundation of our various national teams," Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said.

"It is our aim that the Schools Olympic Programme will be recognised as an important first step on the sporting pathway.

"The main objective from the Schools Olympic Programme was, and will continue to be, to bring up an exceptional generation of athletes who will be aware, cultivated and able to assume responsibility and who will embody the future of sports in Qatar."

Doha 2019, which is bidding against the United States city of Eugene and Barcelona in Spain for the IAAF World Championships, believes that the dream of competing at the event at home will also be the best possible inspiration for the fast-growing community of female athletes in Qatar and across the whole region.

One such example is 14-year-old Dalal al-Ajmi, who has won multiple SOP sprint titles and is now a member of Qatar's female national athletics team.

"I really enjoyed my experience of representing my school in the Schools Olympic Programme," explained Dalal, who is one of the nation's biggest hopes for future World Championship and Olympic success.

"It showed me that I was good at athletics and it's thanks to the programme that I am a part of the national team today.

"My ultimate dream would be to win the World Championships in front of a home crowd in Doha and I really hope that we win the bid to host the 2019 World Championships."

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