Qatar’s Samuel Francis, who set the Asian record for the 100m (9.99 secs) when winning the Asian outdoor sprint title this summer (26 July), outclassed a strong field indoors today to take the 60m dash gold on the first day of the 2nd Asian Indoor Games (30 Oct).
Francis, a 20-year-old former Nigerian, started his inaugural indoor race campaign clocking 6.65 seconds to take second place in his qualifying heat this morning behind Saudi Arabia’s 2003 World Youth 100m champion Yahya Al-Gahes (6.61). Francis then took the victory in the first semi-final of the day in 6.55 seconds.
In the final, Francis who was running in lane six, was the first to react to the gun with Al-Gahes, in lane four trying hard to level with him. Francis retained his margin to the line setting a new Games' record of 6.54. The 21-year-old Al-Gahes closed out in 6.56, while Thailand’s Wachara Sondee took the bronze in 6.65.
To put Francis’ run into context he was not far off the continental indoor record of 6.51, a mark which was set by fellow Qatari Talal Mansoor in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1993.
In the only men’s field event to be concluded on the first day, Liu Feiliang produced 5.30m in the Pole Vault to secure gold for China equalling the Games' record. Feiliang, the World Junior bronze medallist in 2004, who has 5.60m personal best indoors, significantly is the national outdoor record holder thanks to his 5.71m in Guangzhou on 20 July this summer.
Games' bests were also established in three of the four women's events concluded today.
Thailand’s Nongnuch Saenrat comfortably won the women’s 60m to defend the inaugural title from Pattaya, Thailand in 2005, with a 7.28 Games' record. This sprint demolished the 7.46 second national record time with which she had taken the inaugural Asian Indoor Games title in 2006. Her team-mate Sangwan Jaksunin (7.49) and Kazakhstan’s Natalya Ivoninskaya (7.59) took the minor medals today.
Kazakh women took three remaining titles on the opening day. Irina Litvinenko secured the Triple Jump title with 13.56m, just missing compatriot Olesya Belyayeva’s Games' record by 4cm. Litvinenko registered only two valid jumps (13.26 and 13.56) with her four other attempts being fouls.
Natalya Ivoninskaya, fourth in the 100m Hurdles in last year’s outdoor Asian Games in Doha, won the indoor 60m Hurdles today from Zhang Rong of China. Rong, the defending champion, with a PB of 8.20 (2005) and a best this year indoors of 8.23, was held off by Ivoninskaya who ran 8.33 to Rong’s 8.35.
The third Kazakh success came in the final title of the day to be decided, the women’s Pentathlon. Irina Naumenko gathered 4179 points for a Games' record with China’s Liu Haili repeating her silver medal finish from 2006 with a 4063 points haul.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF
1. Samuel Francis (QAT) 6.54 GR; 2. Yahya Al-Gahes (KSA) 6.56 PB; 3. Wachara Sondee (THA) 6.65 SB;
1. Liu Feiliang (CHN) 5.30 GR; 2. Al Sabaghah Ali (KUW) 5.10 PB; 3. Shoughian Pendar (IRI) 4.90;
1. Nongnuch Saenrat (THA) 7.28 GR; 2. Sangwan Jaksunin (THA) 7.49 SB; 3. Natalya Ivoninskaya (KAZ) 7.59 PB;
1. Natalya Ivoninskaya (KAZ) 8.33 GR; 2. Zhang Rong (CHN) 8.35; 3. Anastasiya Vinogradova (KAZ) 8.48 PB;
1. Irina Litvinenko (KAZ) 13.56 PB; 2. Thitima Muangjan (THA) 13.42 PB; 3.Kang Hye Soon (PRK) 12.90 PB;
1. Irina Naumenko (KAZ) 4179 GR 2. Liu Haili (CHN) 4063; 3. Watcharaporn Masim (THA) 3614