DOHA, Following a nationwide competition, the winning design of the mascot for the Middle East’s first-ever World Athletics Championships was announced on the country’s annual National Sports Day.

Falah, an athletic falcon emblazoned in the Qatari flag’s maroon colour, was unveiled as the official mascot of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at a specially-held ceremony at Qatar Foundation’s Awsaj Academy, attended by President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and a host of current and future Team Qatar athletes.

However, the most important guests of the event were the 490 children from a diverse range of local and international schools across Doha, who took part in a series of sports related activities to celebrate the launch of Falah with the help of Team Qatar’s 400m runner Mariam Farid and a group of Aspire Academy’s promising athletes.

On National Sports Day, an annual public holiday in Qatar, the children participated in different inspiring and educational sports activities, coordinated by the IAAF and implemented though the Qatar Athletics Federation and Tsukuba University, who are part of the Tokyo 2020 legacy programme, Sports For Tomorrow. The University of Tsukunba has cooperated with the IAAF in inspiring young children through sport in this joint programme which started in Rio in 2016 and will conclude in Tokyo in 2020.

The selection of Falah followed a thorough and detailed process in which a total of 21 sketches were submitted to the Local Organising Committee (LOC) from residents of Qatar before a multi-staged voting process took place to decide the winner. Young ambassadors aged 8-16 were invited to vote for their favourite designs as Team Qatar’s hammer thrower Ashraf Amgad El Seify introduced and explained the sketches to them.

The young ambassadors’ vote narrowed the competing designs down to eight. Explaining her vote for Falah, nine-year-old Maria from Park House School said: I really like falcons, so I liked Falah a lot and he also looks like a superhero in his outfit which is what athletes are. So strong, powerful, and fast!”

Then QOC President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani and LOC staff cut the selection down to a shortlist of three final designs. Falah, a character with close connections to the Qatari culture and heritage, was finally chosen as the eventual winner.

Speaking during the milestone event, Vice Chairman and Director General of the Local Organising Committee and Vice President of the IAAF, Dahlan Al Hamad, said: Falah represents the pursuit of excellence and symbolises the importance of always giving your very best in everything you do. These are the values and ambitions of the LOC, as we look to deliver an event that inspires a new generation and welcomes fans from all corners of the world.

As a falcon Falah can fly freely into new horizons without boundaries and that is our approach shaping and supporting athletics of the future. We want to showcase this wonderful sport to new audiences and more people than ever before, and engage new young athletes across Qatar, the region and the world. That can only happen if people take flight and join us by descending into Doha for the first ever IAAF World Championships in the Middle East, so the spirit of flight and adventure really connected with us through Falah.

Athletics for Falah is a way to show the world how to be a true athlete. He is competitive, courageous, and helpful like no other. He is loyal, funny, helps his friends and often shows off his athletic moves,” said Theodore Paul Manuel, the Filipino expat who created Falah.

Source: Qatar Olympic Committee