DOHA, February 21, 2016 - Qatar’s flag fluttered high on the third and the final day of the 7th Asian Indoor Athletics Championships at the Aspire Dome, here on Sunday.
The three-day event saw Qatar claim six gold medals, one silver and three bronze medals to finish atop the leaderboard with 10 medals. China (5, 5, 3) and Kazakhstan (4, 2, 4) finished in second and third positions respectively. India finished on the eighth spot with one gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Following the footsteps of star performer Mutaz Essa Barshim, who had created history on Day 1 by becoming the first-ever athlete to win an event in the Championships four times in a row by clearing 2.35 metres bar in the high jump event, the athletes continued the medal haul.
On Day 2, Mohamad Al Garni, the regaining champion in the 1500m, slashed 4.02 seconds from Kamal Ali Thamer’s record of 3:40:37secs that was set at the same venue in 2008 en route to a new meet record of 3:36.35. His feat was closely followed up by 19-year old Abdellelah Haroun.
Haroun too set a championship record (45.88secs) on way to a gold in the 400m.
Day 3 proved to be an icing on the cake for Qatari athletes when during the men’s 800m, Musaab Abdulrahman Bala and Jamal Hairan encrypted a one-two finish. What’s more Bala even set a new Championships record of 1min 46.92sec while Hairan ended 1.13secs behind him to claim silver. Iran’s Mostafa Gholamerza Kordiyani ended with a bronze clocking 1:48.26secs.
However, Abdulrahman Bala was far from satisfied. “I wanted to win and set a new area record as well, but I didn’t recover in time after the unsuccessful attempt to beat the Asian record in Stockholm. Nevertheless, victory in front of home fans makes me really happy,” he said later.
“I’m expecting very good results in Portland next month, at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, as well as at the Olympics in Rio later this year. I’ll work hard towards it,” he said.
Providing glimpse into his training schedule, Abdulrahman Bala said: “Nowadays, the 800M is all about endurance and not speed. Hence I’ve been trying hard during training to better that part of my running,” he added.
The exploits continued for the rest of the evening with Qatari athletes showing their prowess in the Men’s 3000m and Men’s 4x400m relay events.
Al Garni, who had performed wonders in the 1500m on Day 2, completed a double title defence after winning the 3,000 race in convincing fashion. The Qatari finished the race in 7mins, 39.23sec – a Championship Record, ahead of Bahrain’s Albert Rop (7:40.27) and Qatar’s Said Aden Said (7:44.69).
“It wasn’t my plan to stay behind Rop. It was his tactic to make me tired after he watched me running the 1,500M yesterday. But still, I was able to stay close behind him and make the final kick in the last lap,” said a beaming Al Garni.
“I’m feeling very strong this year. I’ve been 100 per cent prepared and focused on my training. Regarding the IAAF Indoor Worlds in Portland, we still have time to decide whether I’m going for it or not,” he added.
Later, in the Men’s 4x400m relay, Qatar’s Ohamed Nazir E Abbas, Abdulrahman Bala, Baker Haydal Abdalla and Abdalelah H A Hassam created a Championship Record of 3:08.20secs.
Bahraini athletes to the fore
Bahrain’s Marta Hirpato Yota won the women’s 800M title with a time of 2mins 4.59sec. She finished slightly ahead of Sri Lanka’s Nimali Waliwarsha (2:04.88) and Japan’s Yume Kitamura (2:05.04).
“Before the start of the race, I told myself to ‘just get in there and fight’. And that’s exactly what I did. I’m so happy to have won the Asian title,” said Hirpato Yota.
Later Bahraini women set a new Asian Record and also a Championships Record in the Women’s 4x400m relay event. Their team of Alwa Eid Naser Naser, Uwaseun Yusuf Jamal, Iman Essa Jasim Essa, Kemi Mujidat Adekoya finished with a timing of 3:35.07.
Kuwait Almandeel impresses in 60m hurdles
Kuwait’s Abdulazeez Almandeel won the men’s 60M hurdles with a new Asian Indoor Record (7.60sec) at the Aspire Dome. He finished ahead of compatriot Yaqoub Alyouha (7.65) and China’s Zhang Hong Lin (7.73).
“I’m so excited with my time, which is a new national and Championships Record. I feel I can run faster in Portland next month and secure a place in the final,” he said, post the win.
“Running 7.60 indoors mean I can try and go for a sub-13.50sec run outdoors. If I can do that, I’ll try to break my personal best, which is 13.49,” he added.
Kazak Soprunova shies in women’s 60m hurdles
Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Soprunova won the women’s 60M hurdles by the smallest of margins, pushing behind her namesake and compatriot Anastassiya Pilipenko by 0.002sec.
Soprunova (8.168) and Pilipenko (8.170) were both credited with an 8.17 finish, but the former won gold by the minutest of margins. Uzbekistan’s Valentina Kibalnikova (8.32) finished third.
“It was a very close race. I love athletics, I love training and competing, no matter the final outcome. Now it’s back to hard training for me so that I’ll fulfill my dream of qualifying for the Olympics,” said Pilipenko, after the race.
As many as 13 Championship Records and three Asian Indoor Records were set in Doha during the three days of high-octane athletics action.