The recently held fourth edition of the Ooredoo Ride of Champions “made history” as it was the “most inclusive Ride of Champions ever”, organisers Qatar Cyclists Centre said.
The 2020 Ooredoo Ride of Champions featured 1,700 participants.
Among the participating men, women and children, ranging in age from three to 68 years, were athletes and individuals setting out to accomplish their own greatness.
The event, held on November 13 at Education City, featured two “very special rides, creating a platform for athletes with unique needs to capture centre stage and demonstrate their abilities to ride, enjoy, exercise and be a winner”, according to a press statement by the Qatar Cyclists Centre.
The first of these was the Wheelchair and Handcycle Race, which was a competition among athletes with incredible upper-body strength, capable of cycling with their hands at speeds up to and over 30km/h.
Another ride, which was launched in previous editions of the Ooredoo Ride of Champions, was the Best Buddies ride. This ride features Best Buddies participants and their closest friends, taking a ride at their own pace around the Green Spine at Qatar Foundation (QF). With ample supervision and safety precautions in place, the organisers built the “perfect platform for Best Buddies riders to enjoy the beautiful day and captivating atmosphere, all while accomplishing the amazing”, the statement noted.
More than 40 attendees with exceptional accessibility needs participated in the 2020 edition of the Ooredoo Ride of Champions, providing a “terrific platform to put the spotlight on the need for greater accessibility for people with disabilities”. Ali bin Towar al-Kuwari, Ooredoo ambassador, Qatar Cyclists Centre board member and a Qatari cycling superstar, said: “The vision of the ride of champions has always been to be for the entire community of Qatar and, year on year, we have worked to widen the event to include not only racing cyclists but also families, youth and now para-sport participants, as well as those from ability sport - whether they are neuro-diverse or para athletes.”
Amy Johnson, Community Engagement director at QF, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the Qatar Cyclists Centre for an event that is now a standout feature on Qatar’s calendar of community activities, and to see so many people embracing active living and the sheer enjoyment of social interaction.” The event featured entities such as Best Buddies, Accessible Qatar and others. Abdulrahman al-Yafei, ambassador of Accessible Qatar, a Sasol initiative, said: “I’ve truly enjoyed this year’s Ride of Champions - as it is Qatar’s most inclusive event. No matter your physical ability, it has a category for you - from a 5.8km lap inside Education City where wheelchair users can use their everyday chair to longer routes up to 137km designed for cyclists and even hand cyclists. I really love such events because they bring all walks of life in the community together. Can’t wait for next year’s edition.”
The organisers said they depend on the dedication and support of key partners to help it conform to the heightened needs of accessible events.
On behalf of Latifa al-Kuwari, executive director of Shafallah Centre for Persons with Disabilities, Laalei Abu Alfain extended her thanks and appreciation to the Qatar Cyclists Centre for giving the opportunity to the members of Best Buddies Qatar to participate in the event.
“It is our second participation after last year’s event in 2019. In these difficult days, which have had the effect of isolating our members at home and made it difficult to engage in community activities until this opportunity came, the Ooredoo Ride of Champions has put a smile on their faces despite all the difficulties and challenges they’ve faced.”
Jack Saba, general manager of Public Affairs at Sasol, added: “We are proud to have supported the Ooredoo Ride of Champions to become more inclusive with our Definitely Able and Accessible CSR initiatives. I would like to thank the organisers and sponsors for their support and passion to make the Ride of Champions accessible for all.”
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