Qatari al-Attiyah aims to regain Dakar crown and then win Olympic gold

Nicosia (AFP) –


Qatari multi-sport competitor Nasser al-Attiyah, a three-time Dakar Rally winner and an Olympic skeet shooting bronze medallist, has ambitions for a double triumph in 2021.

Al-Attiyah, who won the car class in the Dakar in 2011, 2015 and last year, plans a fresh assault in January when the gruelling race is held in Saudi Arabia for the second consecutive year.

Six months later he is aiming to be in action at the Tokyo Olympics where the skeet event is scheduled for the last week of July.

"After not driving for eight months, now we start again very strong. We won a deserved Andalucia rally last week. All the contestants were there to prepare for Dakar. I think we have a good chance for the second edition in Saudi Arabia and our goal is to win."

Al-Attiyah, 49, identified the 58-year-old Carlos Sainz and 55-year-old Stephane Peterhansel as his main rivals.

"I think the competition will be between this trio if we don't face mechanical problems," he told AFP.

"I am younger than Carlos and Stephane, which gives me some advantage. As we saw in the Andalucia Rally, I was more in control. But of course the Dakar Rally has its circumstances and surprises."

He has set up a rally academy in Spain to pass on his know-how to future generations -- and not just drivers.

"I bought a farm in Barcelona, and I love being there," he said. "Generations will graduate, not only drivers, but also engineers and mechanics, it will be similar to a university."

The farm is also where he trains in the skeet. He has shot in six Olympics, winning bronze in the London Games in 2012.

"I will be ready for the Olympics in 2021. God willing, we will be in form," he said. "Our goal is gold and to represent my country and the Arab world."

Al Attiyah says his love of sports keeps him competitive.

"When you love something, you give it from your heart," he said.