Team Qatar’s Abdelelah Haroun is a prodigious young talent who this season has once again established himself as one of the world’s most promising young sprinters after he added 2017 World Championship bronze to his growing athletics accolades. Still only 20 years old, the 2016 World Youth Champion and World indoor silver medallist’s biggest career disappointment came when he failed to progress to the Rio 2016 Olympic final, and it is this that is driving him to his ultimate dream of achieving Olympic glory for Qatar at Tokyo 2020.
Haroun’s life could have taken a very different direction when his early sporting career saw him follow his family and friends into boxing. However, it was a teacher at school that spotted his athletics talent and encouraged him to take up the sport.
Haroun showed a natural aptitude for athletics and achieved his first major title at just 18 when he won the 2015 Asian Athletics Championships, beating two-time defending champion Yousef Masrahi of Saudi Arabia in the process. He claimed further major titles in 2016 with Asian Indoor gold on home soil in Doha, followed by World Indoor silver just a few weeks later in Portland.
However, his key focus for the 2016 season was on the World Youth Championships later in the year but he almost jeopardised his potential by putting too much pressure on himself. It wasn’t until moments before the race that Haroun changed his mindset; his new-found confidence paid off and Haroun stormed to victory with a season’s best of 44:81.
His lowest point came just a few weeks after the World Youth Championships when he failed to progress to the Rio 2016 Olympic final. It was the support of those closest to Haroun that pulled him through, and he eventually saw the set-back as a learning experience and used it to further motivate his future goals.
Haroun’s persistence and refreshed approach paid off and just one year later he went from the lowest point of his career to the happiest moment as he claimed bronze at the London 2017 World Championships, an achievement that he dedicates to his country:
My victory in London was different to my other achievements. I needed to do something for my country and make the people of Qatar happy, especially in the low moments that we lived in back then. I got bronze, Mutaz [Barshim] got gold and our other athletes performed very well. We did what we could to make our country proud!
Following a short end of season break, Haroun is already back to intensive training ahead of the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, early next year.
Over the next two years, Haroun’s biggest dreams are the World Championships in Doha in 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Doha 2019 provides a unique opportunity for Team Qatar to compete on the world’s biggest stage in front of a home-crowd, and Haroun is relishing the chance to build on his London success,
Doha hosting the IAAF 2019 is so important to me and my future. It is one of my biggest career focuses. I want to achieve even more than what I did in London. This is my dream.
One year later, it is the opportunity to achieve Olympic glory and make up for his past mistakes that is Haroun’s ultimate goal:
In Tokyo 2020 I want to make up for what I missed in Rio and perform better. I’m much better now, ready and focused – and I want 2020 to start tomorrow!
Despite the intense training and serious ambitions, Haroun is able to maintain a fun and hugely likeable side to his personality that he takes with him everywhere he goes.
You can keep up to date with the progress of Haroun and all of Qatar’s athletes by signing up to the Team Qatar Club for exclusive content, offers and competitions. It is free and easy to sign up – just click here. Haroun’s feature film can be found on the ‘Meet Team Qatar’ page.