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Sizzling Samba wins 400m hurdles gold; sets Asian record

Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba celebrates after winning the final of the 400m hurdles men during the second day of the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Monday.

Ayeni Olusegun Doha Cool, assured and like a predator, Abderrahman Samba exploded to his first Asian Athletics Championship gold medal setting the meet record at the iconic Khalifa International Stadium on Monday. The 2018 world number one finished with 47.51 in 400m hurdles ahead of Chen Chieh of Chinese Taipei and India’s Jabir Madari.

The second day of the four-day continental meet was good for hosts Qatar as they finished with two more medals, including a gold medal from 800m runner Abdubakar Haydar Abdalla. “I am happy to win here at home. I have been training for this and it shows on the track.

This win gives me a feeling I can win the World Championship here,” said a smiling Samba. “The plan was to push hard in the first 300m. After the seventh hurdle, I had to change my steps from 13 to 14. I had to deal with a head wind in the first metres of the race that’s why I wore my sunglasses,” Samba said. Despite 47.51 being good enough for the championship record, Samba who recorded his personal best time of 44.60 in 400m in Pretoria, South Africa back in March, believes he can go faster in his speciality event.


“The 47.51 is a good time, but I can run faster. I worked hard in South Africa and I am sure I can run faster. Maybe (I can) improve my time. I compete in every race with joy, I don’t have any pressure. I want to improve my time more than one second and I feel I can still go lower,” he added. Qatari 800m duo of Abdalla and Jamal Hairane claimed a gold and a bronze as Kuwaiti Ebrahim Alzofairi pocketed the silver to cancel a Qatar sweep, leaving Abdirahman Saeed Hassan in fourth. Abdalla’s victory means he now holds both the indoor and outdoor continental titles, following his victory in Tehran at the 2018 Asian Indoor Championships.

“From gun to tape, I ran hard and in the end I was rewarded with a new personal best and the world lead. Now my target is the World Championships here in Doha. Hopefully I can make it as I haven’t qualified for a major final yet,” Abdalla said. On his part, Jamal who finished third said the team had their sights on a clean sweep.

“We followed our coach’s plan with the aim to sweep the medals. We didn’t manage to do that but of course, we feel happy with what we have. Now, a world championships final is my target this season,” he said. Records continue to tumble The Doha meet saw three new championship records set on Day 1 but it was just a start of more intriguing finishes.

On Monday, Samba set a new 400m hurdles record but the story of the day belonged to Kazakhstan’s Olga Safronova who ran to a new 100m women’s mark in the heats with 11.21s before blitzing to another record in the final with 11.17. “I pushed hard in the end, gave everything I had and I have the gold medal. That’s my second best race ever following my race in Rio.

The Khalifa Stadium is great and the facilities are great too,” Safronova said after her mid-blowing race. In the men’s javelin final, Cheng Chao-Tsun set a new championship record and world lead with 86.72 throw in his first attempt to clinch gold while India’s Shivpal Singh took silver and Japan’s Ryohei Arai finished third.

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