Skeet champion Al-Attiyah won Paris-Dakar’s rally

Qatar’s flag-bearer, Nasser Al-Attiyah won the toughest rally race of the world, and keeps on dreaming about clay targets and Olympic Games.

Qatar’s Skeet Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah, known as one of the best rally drivers of the world, won the Paris-Dakar race, last Saturday. The 40-year old shooter, who divides himself between shooting ranges and dusty tracks around the world, finished in first place with more than 48 minutes of advantage on the runner up, Giniel de Villers, finally getting on the highest step of the podium after a frustrating second place in 2010. 


Al-Attiyah is one of the best skeet marksmen around and is also one of the best rally drivers in the world. And he just keeps on going, with one thing or another, and this always at the highest level, whether it be at World Championships, Olympic Games or at the Dakar’s. “My schedule is a bit of a problem”, he said smiling during the 50th ISSF World Championship in all events in Munich, last August, while interviewed by Gazzetta dello Sport’s Mario Salvini. And you can understand why: the successful sportsmen from Qatar shoots thousands of clay targets per year, participates in the world shooting circuit, and the same time undertakes severe driving trainings on rally cars.


“Shooting helps me to concentrate and to give my best on the rally tracks” Nasser said “Practising two sports helps me to be more concentrated and focuses, and at the same time allows me to release the pressure.”


Nasser began rally driving in 1990 as a 20-year-old with a Toyota Celica and won the Qatar international rally several times. However, between 1994 and 1995, he attended, along with his father, a hunter, a clay target shooting range, which opened near Doha. He took part in a small competition during which several people told him he had talent – and a few months later, he was already taking part at the Asian Games in Jakarta. “I thought I was on vacation,” he says. It was an enjoyable trip, which he rounded off with a silver medal and a ticket for Atlanta 1996. “My trainer couldn’t walk normally anymore. He literally jumped for joy.” There is shooting career started, bringing him up to the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens, when he finished in fourth with a total score of 147 out of 150 targets, just one shoot-off target far from the podium.


“The Olympics are still my biggest dream, and I keep on trying!” Nasser said at the last ISSF World Championship in Munich. “I love shooting, and somehow I prefer it to rally driving. While shooting, at the Games or at ISSF World Championship, I am representing my country: I compete for Qatar’s flag, my flag!” said Al-Attiyah, who will be competing in the 2011 ISSF World Cup Series, trying to reach an Olympic Quota Place for London 2012, an “entrance ticket” to the next Olympic Game.

M. Dalla Dea - Thanks to M. Salvini (Gazzetta dello sport)