Abubaker Kaki of Sudan wins the 1500m at the 11th Pan Arab Games in Cairo, 24 November 2007. (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Cairo, Egypt

Doubles day – Pan Arab Games, Final Day

It was a day for doubles as the 11th Pan Arab Games ended here yesterday (24) with four athletes adding a second gold medal to a first one achieved on one of the previous three days in the Military Academy Stadium.

Egypt’s Amr Ibrahim Mostafa Seoud and Lebanon’s Gretta Taslakian won respectively the men’s and women’s 200m titles to go with their 100m gold medals secured on Thursday.

Having won the 800m on Thursday with the performance of the Games – a solo 1:43.90 for the fourth quickest time of the year – Sudan’s Abubakr Kaki  took the 1500m title yesterday.  And Morocco’s Abdelkader Hachlaf, only 24 hours after winning the 3000m Steeplechase, emerged victorious from a thrilling 5000m yesterday.

National and Games record secures sprint double

Taslakian ran almost a second quicker than her national record of 24.30 seconds to take the title in 23.56. In so doing, she defeated Sudan’s Nawal El Jak, who was also going for a double. El Jak, the World Junior Championships bronze medallist over 400 metres in Beijing last year, had won over the lap here two days earlier.

With a performance that also erased the Games record of 23.67, which had stood to Morocco’s 1984 Olympic 400m Hurdles champion Nawal El Moutawakel since 1985, Taslakian gained reward for the challenges she faces training in crisis-torn Beirut. Far from the tanks on the streets, and political chaos at home, Taslakian was beaming with happiness.
“Probably politics is the big deal in Lebanon,” Taslakian said. “I hope they can just look at the medals and see that Lebanon is not only built on politics. Sport is the main thing in life and they should believe in people who do sports in Lebanon.”

Describing her national record time as “unbelievable”, Taslakian added: “I cannot believe I have run nearly one second faster than my PB. I wasn’t really expecting two gold medals.”

“From my training, I was ready to run but the medal was not the big deal. My times, and how I should run, was the big deal for me. But, when I came here and saw the competitors I was expecting that I could do something.”

Aged 22 and a full-time athlete, Taslakian trains on a track in the centre of Beirut. “I do nothing else,” she said. “I am really sacrificed to do this and I am still young. I know that eventually I have to study, and go for a job, but not now. I want to live this.”

Seoud takes comes from behind victory

Seoud, 21, won the men’s 200m just as he had the 100m, by chasing down victory from behind. Trailing Khalil Hamed, from Jordan, coming off the bend, Seoud was far the stronger down the home straight, clocking 20.69. Seoud’s scalps included Sudan’s Nagmeldin Ali Abubakr, the 400m champion.

While Seoud became only the third athlete in the 54-year history of the Pan Arab Games to record a men’s 100/200 double, Hachlaf performed a double not witnessed since 1985. The Moroccan made his move at the bell, hitting the front, but there were still three men in contention with 200m to go.

Four contest sprint finish in 10,000m

Mahbob Hasan, of Bahrain, had won the 10,000m in a sprint finish involving four athletes. Now, three days later, he made his bid for the double around the top bend. But, close to home, he was passed by Qatar’s Sultan Khamis Zaman, who then had victory snatched from him almost on the line by the fast-finishing Hachlaf.

Just as less than one second had covered the top four athletes in the 10,000m, so was there little between the medallists in the 5000m. Hachlaf recorded 13:39.75, Zaman 13:39.79 and Hasan 13:39.93.

‘Kaki, Kaki, Kaki’

In the 1500m Kaki, in contrast to his 800m run, opted for a tactical race. The slower the pace, the more it played into Kaki’s hands. When he hit the front at the bell, the chanting of ‘Kaki, Kaki, Kaki’ from the Sudanese contingent in the grandstand grew louder.

A bold attack by Mohamed Hassine, from Saudi Arabia, to go past Kaki off the final bend was destined to fail as the Sudanese found another gear and cruised home, with finger in the air to emphasise that he was No.1, in 3:47.92.

While the women’s 1500m stood out neither for the winning time (4:23.54) nor excitement, it did buck the trend of the day. Both the 800m champion, Sudan’s Amma Bakhit, and the 5000m winner, Tunisia’s Safa Issaoui, attempted a double but neither could match winner Seltana Ait Hammou, from Morocco.

In the women’s Hammer Throw, there was a Games record of 62.83m, and third successive gold medal, for Egypt’s Marwa Ahmed Hussein. It helped Egypt’s gold medal count for the Games up to six, fourth behind Morocco (10), Sudan (8) and Tunisia (7).

David Powell for the IAAF