In May 2005 the founding committee of ASPIRE,20 the Academy for Sports Excellence in Doha, Qatar, commissioned Quinn to design a monumental work of art and a visual centrepiece for the inauguration of this state-of-the-art sports academy. His 8 tonne sculpture Rise Through Education has come to symbolise not only learning and sporting achievement, but also Qatar’s commitment to its citizens and its aspirations for the nation’s future.
While ancient sports – such as camel racing, horse racing, falconry and traditional boat racing – are all part of the social fabric of Qatar, the nation is keen to embrace modern sports as well. Youth football teams were established in the 1940s, followed by the formation of a General Authority for Youth and Sports. In recent years the country has become an important venue for international
sporting events, including the motorcycle Grand Prix and the 2006 Asian Games. The building of ASPIRE represented the first step towards realising the founding committee’s vision to make Qatar an international venue for sports and the country’s dream to host the World Cup in 2022.
The official opening of ASPIRE, on 17 November 2005, was conducted by the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-
Missned. Introduced by Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, the event was attended by some of the biggest names in sport. Footballing superstars Pelé and Maradona held
masterclasses with young players, watched by thousands of spectators and a worldwide television audience. The two football greats were joined by a host of international sporting legends including Said Aouita, Nadia Comeneci, Hicham El Guerrouj, Ed Moses, Rabah Madjer and Mark Spitz.