Rabah Yousif

Athlete Profile

    Great Britain & N.I. Great Britain & N.I.
    11 DEC 1986
Sudan's Rabah Yousif competes in the 400m heats in Doha (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
200 Metres 21.07 Bedford, GBR 28 MAY 2007
300 Metres 32.31 Rieti (Guidobaldi) 07 SEP 2014
400 Metres 44.54 Beijing (National Stadium) 24 AUG 2015
Long Jump 7.61 +1.3 London (Hendon) 05 MAY 2007

Personal Best - Indoor

Performance Wind Place Date
60 Metres 6.88 Sheffield 11 FEB 2007
300 Metres 33.04 Liévin 05 MAR 2010
400 Metres 46.24 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 19 FEB 2011
400 Metres 46.24 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 20 FEB 2010

Progression - Outdoor

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2007 21.07 Bedford, GBR 28 MAY

300 Metres

Performance Place Date
2014 32.31 Rieti (Guidobaldi) 07 SEP
2010 32.75 Ostrava (Mestský Stadion) 27 MAY

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2017 45.58 Birmingham (Alexander Stadium) 20 AUG
2016 45.45 London (Olympic Stadium) 23 JUL
2015 44.54 Beijing (National Stadium) 24 AUG
2014 45.41 London (Hendon) 05 JUL
2013 46.06 Ponce 18 MAY
2012 45.13 London (Olympic Stadium) 05 AUG
2011 45.13 Lapinlahti 24 JUL
2010 45.18 Nairobi 30 JUL
2009 45.15 Damascus 07 OCT
2007 45.72 Bedford, GBR 10 JUN
2006 46.89 Manchester (Sportcity) 15 JUL
2005 46.36 London (HA) 30 JUL
2004 46.36 Stoke-on-Trent 31 JUL

Long Jump

Performance Wind Place Date
2007 7.61 +1.3 London (Hendon) 05 MAY

Progression - Indoor

60 Metres

Performance Place Date
2007 6.88 Sheffield 11 FEB

300 Metres

Performance Place Date
2013 33.19 Gent 10 FEB
2010 33.04 Liévin 05 MAR

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2017 48.30 Düsseldorf (Arena-Sportpark) 01 FEB
2015 46.80 Stockholm (Globe Arena) 19 FEB
2014 47.92 Moskva (CSKA) 02 FEB
2013 46.79 Stockholm 21 FEB
2012 46.85 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 18 FEB
2011 46.24 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 19 FEB
2010 46.24 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 20 FEB
2005 47.22 Sheffield 12 FEB

Honours - 400 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
15th IAAF World Championships 6 44.68 Beijing (National Stadium) 26 AUG 2015
The XXX Olympic Games 4sf1 45.13 London (Olympic Stadium) 05 AUG 2012
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012 sf2 DQ Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 09 MAR 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 3sf1 45.43 Daegu (DS) 29 AUG 2011
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 5 45.45 Split (Poljud Stadion) 04 SEP 2010
13th IAAF World Indoor Championships 3h1 47.21 Doha (Aspire Dome) 12 MAR 2010
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6sf2 45.63 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 19 AUG 2009

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Updated 16 December 2011

Rabah YOUSIF, Sudan (400m)

Born 11 December 1986, Omdurman (Sudan)

4th of 6 children (4 girls – 2 boys)  

1.83m / 73kg

Coach: Carol Williams

Club: Newham & Essex Beagles

Rabah Yousif’s family is a well-known entity on the Sudanese athletics scene. His father Mohamed Yousif Bakhit  used to be a 100m-200m national champion at the end of the 60ies-early 70ies. Two of his uncles were 400m-800m runners and his brother a shot putter.

“Since I was born, I saw sports equipment in the house,” smiles Rabah, who also remembers that his father regularly took him to the stadium to attend local meets. By 12-13, he had done a couple of road races and played basket-ball. Then he met a coach who convinced him to do high jump for a bit. In November 2001, he cleared 2.10m at the Grand Prix meeting in Khartoum.

The following year, in 2002, he was drafted in all the youth selections.  He took part in the East Africa Youth Championships in Zanzibar mid-June (1st in the high jump with 2m and 1st in the long jump with 6.85m), the Eastern African Junior Championships in Addis Ababa at the end of June (2nd in the 100m in 10.3, 3rd in the 200m in 21.9 and 1st in the high jump with 1.95m) and earned his selection for the World Junior Championships in Kingston. The young Sudanese however never set foot in Jamaica. During a preparation training camp in Sheffield, he ran away and asked for asylum in the United Kingdom.

For 2 years and a half, the youngster benefited from state protection, as a minor.  He was offered a place to stay, first in Birmingham then in Middlesbrough and a small stipend to live. After that, he got embroiled in a protracted legal battle to earn the right to stay.

During his first year in England, Rabah put the sport aside. He was back to the high jump in 2003, but due to problems with his knee, he was not able to jump well. He then sat down with coach Carol Williams to discuss his options. Williams asked him what he wanted to do: serious or leisure sports, and which other event he may be interested in. The Sudanese answered “My dad always used to tell me that I look like a 400m runner, not a high jumper.” From then on, he started training for the 400m.

Now a quartermiler, Rabah opened the 2004 season in 48.2. Two weeks later, in Gateshead on May 15, he lowered his personal best to 46.97, defeating Jared Deacon (a member of the 4x400m British team at the 2000 Olympic Games) in the process. In June, he won the national junior championships (47.51) and by the end of the season, he had lowered his personal best to 46.36.

By the end of 2004, as he turned 18, Rabah lost his means of support and depended on the generosity of his friends and those around him for subsistence.

In 2005, for his first indoor season, the Sudanese achieved a best performance of 47.22 and finished 3rd at the national championships (47.64). During the summer he won the national u23 championships (46.69) and finished 4th at the national championships in 46.33, his best time of the season. At the end of the year he moved in with his companion and future wife, Sophie Legg, with whom he has 2 children (son Noah, born in 2006 and daughter Taiba, born in 2009).

In 2006, a back injury affected his performances and he ran only 3 times below 47 seconds: twice at the national championships, 46.89 SB in the heats and 46.97 in the semi finals (where he finished 8th in 47.46) and 46.98 in Loughborough at the end of July.

The following year, back to better shape, Rabah Yousif made a breakthrough, running below 46 for the first time: on 10 June he achieved 45.72 in Bedford. Two months later he clocked another sub-46 (45.99) in Loughborough. He also achieved 21.07 in the 200m (20.85w) and 7.61m, a Sudanese national record in the long jump. The 45.72 in the 400m made him the 4th quickest athlete in the UK that year, which raised the profile of the media campaign to allow him to stay in the country. However, after a five year battle to get refugee status, the asylum judge rejected the young Sudanese’s last appeal and he faced deportation.

As the chances to represent Britain had become too slim, Rabah was advised to compete for Sudan again. He got back in touch with the Sudanese authorities who guaranteed his safety through his solicitors. He left Middlesbrough to go back to Sudan in February 2008, but was allowed to re-enter the UK a couple of weeks later on a spouse’s visa this time and married his long-time companion at the end of May.

Things didn’t go that well athletics-wise. The quartermiler ruptured his left quadriceps in March in Khartoum, while his first senior event in Sudan’s vest, the 2008 African Championships was scheduled at the end of April in Addis Ababa. Though he had not fully recovered, Rabah joined the team, helping the 4x400m relay clinch the silver medal in a new national record of 3:04.00. In the individual event though, he couldn’t go past the semi final (6th of his semi in 47:22). Back in England, he wasn’t performing well at all, unable to get below 47. (47.13 SB on 25 May). He thus decided to end his season prematurely, after Sudan failed in its last attempt to qualify a 4x400m relay team for the Bejing Olympic Games.  

The shape was back in 2009, with 6 performances in the 46s in as many races between May 30 and July 29. Rabah had joined the Sudanese training camp in Sweden at the end of June, but came short of the qualifying standard for the Berlin World Championships until the very last meet where it was possible to qualify: on 31 July he clocked 45.95 (the limit for the B standard) in the C-race of the DN Galan in Stockholm. The season took a better turn from there as the Sudanese maintained a sub-46 streak for the remainder of the season. He lowered his PB to 45.55 in the heats of the World Championships, before exiting the competition in the semi finals (6th in 45.63). For his first participation in a major championship, he placed 16th overall and 1st among the participants from Africa.

He then carried on with a 2nd place in Rovereto (45.76), a 4th place in Rieti (45.64) and a victory in Szczecin (45.64), before claiming gold at the Arab Championships in Damascus, Syria, early October. Pushed all the way by Libya’s Mohamed Khouaja, who set a new national record of 45.35, he lowered his PB to 45.15 to clinch his first regional title.

In 2010 Rabah did a full indoor season with the Doha World Indoor Championships in mind. He lowered the national record three times (46.97 in Moscow on 7 February, 46.49 three days later in Stockholm and 46.24 on 20 February in Birmingham) and also set a new record for the rarely run 300m in Liévin on 5 March (33.04). However, he had a disappointing performance in Qatar, with a premature exit after the heats, one second away from his fastest times of the year (3rd of his heat in 47.21).

He quickly carried on with the outdoor season, recording his second best time ever at the Daegu World Challenge on 19 May (2nd in 45.38) and ran another 6 races between 45.69 and 45.99. The Sudanese then came to the African Championships in Nairobi at the end of July, expecting gold, because he had run all his races below 46. However, after winning his heat and semi final, he had to settle for silver in the final behind Libya’s Mohamed Khouaja who dipped below 45 (44.98). Rabah Yousif’s time was 45.18, 3 hundredths of a second short of his personal best. The second place earned him a selection in the African team for the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup where he finished 5th in 45.45, before anchoring the Africa 4x400m relay team to bronze.

In 2011, Yousif competed twice indoor, tying his 46.24 national indoor record in Birmingham on 19 February, and dominating the race from start to finish in Stockholm three days later. However he ended up being disqualified for breaking his lane a little bit too early. As an opener for the outdoor season, the Sudanese tested himself on shorter distances at the end of April in Hexham (11.01 in the 100m and 33.62 in the 300m), before undertaking an early season tour that led him to Asia (45.88 in Daegu and 46.03 in Shanghai) and Africa where he recorded two victories, at home in Khartoum in 46.06 and in Dakar in 45.64, a B-qualifier for the World Championships. After a couple of races in the 45.50ies without much competition, he lowered his season’s best to 45.32 to finish 3rd in Madrid on 9 July, before recording 45.13 in Lapinlahti two weeks later on 23 July, a lifetime best and the A standard for Daegu.

The Sudanese quartermiler was ranked 20th in the 2011 world top lists and 15th on a three per nation basis heading into the World Championships. With all major obstacles in his career now history, he felt optimistic about the future, feeling he hasn’t peaked yet and is now looking to get under the 45 second barrier.

In Daegu however, after running 45.20 in the heats, he slowed to 45.43 and was the first athlete out of the final.

Two weeks later, at the All Africa Games in Maputo, he easily dominated the field in all three rounds of the 400m, taking the title in 45.27. At the end of October, Yousif again dominated the Arab Championships in Al-Ain, well clear of his closest rival.

He comes to the Arab Games ranked n.24 in the world, and should have no problem securing the title, as Qatar’s Femi Ogunode, the only other athlete in the field to be ranked in the top 100 (38th) and a finalist in Daegu, opted out of the event in Doha as the 400m heats were scheduled on the same day as the heats and finals of the 100m.

Personals Bests

400m: 45.13 (2011)

100m: 10.79 (2007)

200m: 21.07 (2007)

High Jump: 2.10 (2001)

Long Jump: 7.61 (2007)

Yearly Progression

2004: 46.36; 2005: 46.33; 2006: 46.89; 2007: 45.72; 2008: 47.13; 2009: 45.15; 2010: 45.18; 2011: 45.13

Career Highlights

2002  1st   East Africa Youth Championships (High Jump)    (2.00m)

2002  1st   East Africa Youth Championships (Long Jump)    (6.85m)

2002  2nd   Eastern African Junior Championships (100m)    (10.3)

2002  2nd   Eastern African Junior Championships (200m)    (21.9)

2002  1st     Eastern African Junior Championships (High Jump)   (1.95)

2004  1st   UK Junior Championships (400m)    (47.51)

2005  3rd   UK Indoor Championships (400m)     (47.64)

2005  1st  UK U23 Championships (400m)       (46.69)    

2005  4th   UK Championships (400m)         (46.33)

2006  8th   UK Championships (400m)     (47.46)    

2006  3rd   UK U23 Championships (400m)       (47.15)

2007  1st  UK U23 Championships (400m)       (46.04)

2008  2nd   African Championships (4x400)      (3:04.00)

2009  1st   European Club Champions Cup (400m)     (46.68)

2009  1st   European Club Champions Cup (4x400m)     (3:08.35)

2009  6s2  World Championships (400m)       (45.63)

2009  1st  Arab Championships (400m)       (45.15)

2010  3h1  World Indoor Championships (400m)    (47.21)

2010  2nd   African Championships (400m)       (45.18)

2010  5th  Continental Cup        (45.45)

2011  3s1  World Championships      (45.43)

2011  1st   All Africa Games       (45.27)

2011  1st   Arab Championships     (45.96)

Prepared by Carole Fuchs for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2010-2011

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