Bahraini Maryam Yusuf Jamal completed the first leg of a possible middle distance running double with victory in the women’s 800m on the third day’s action of Athletics at the 15th Asian Games on Saturday (9).
The surprise of the day was reserved for the women’s 100m where Sri Lanka’s defending Games champion Susanthika Jayasinghe lost to Uzbekistan’s Guzel Khubbieva. Elsewhere on the busy programme China’s Zhou Chunxiu was a comfortable winner of the women’s marathon. There was disaster for World Junior champion Huang Haiqiang in the men’s High Jump, while the track running debut of Hasan Mahboob gifted Bahrain its third athletics gold medal of the Games thanks to an impressive finishing kick.
Jamal too strong for the field
Jamal, the World Indoor 1500m bronze medallist, had been the outstanding favourite going into the women’s 800m final this afternoon and looked worthy of her pre-Games billing throughout the two-lap race.
Kazkhstan’s Viktoriya Yalovtseva, the fastest qualifier in Thursday’s heats, dictated the early tempo of the race, but when Jamal hit the front with 600m to go, it was immediately apparent nothing would stop the inevitable victory.
At the bell, Jamal’s lead over the chasing pack increased to 30m. And with virtually no one able to contend with the World Cup 1500m winner’s blistering pace, the 23-year-old eased down a bit going into the home straight and eventually crossed the finish line in 2:01.79. India’s Santhi Soundarajan followed the outstanding Bahraini across the finish line for silver, while Yalovtseva held on for bronze.
“I did not know any of the runners in the field and did not want to take any chances,” Jamal said commenting on her early move. “I have run and won many races this year, but this is very special to Bahrain and I am very happy.”
2:27:03 gives Zhou Chunxiu marathon gold
In the women’s marathon, there was little doubting the identity of the eventual race winner as China’s Zhou Chunxiu stormed clear of the field early for what ultimately was a clinically taken victory in 2:27:03.
In weather conditions far from ideal for marathon running, Zhou hit the front before the fifth kilometre mark and eventually finished more than three minutes ahead of the Japanese duo of Kiyoko Shimahara and Kayoko Obata, who took silver and bronze respectively.
The victory caps a wonderful year for the 27-year-old Chinese woman who on 12 March 2006 became the seventh woman in history to dip under 2:20 when she won the Seoul Marathon in 2:19:51. There are now eight such sub-20 women runners thanks to Deena Kastor’s 2:19:36 run a month later in London.
“I was in good shape today,” Zhou Chunxiu said after the race. “I have been training for this event and was confident. It was absolutely not comfortable (in the weather conditions) and it made me exhausted. It really affected my performance today.”
Track debutant Mahboob oozes class in men’s 10,000m
There was a major surprise in the men’s 10,000m when Bahrain’s Hasan Mahboob defeated the Asian record holder Abdullah Ahmed Hassan to take victory in 27:58.88.
The starting field of nine took shape after only four laps of the race with two Qatari and two Bahraini runners hitting the front. Bahrain’s Aadam Ismaeel Isa took the runners through the first 2km in 5:57.56, with Mahboob, Hassan, and Qatar’s Rashed Essa Ismail very much in contention.
The quartet continued to exchange the lead among themselves for the next 20 laps until Hassan became the first runner to capitulate under the challenge at the bell. With 200m to go, Mahboob pulled away from the chasing duo to take victory with Rashed Essa Ismail’s late sprint enough for silver for Qatar.
“It was my first ever race on track and I am very happy with victory,” said Mahboob. “I was afraid of the other runners because they are experienced. I thank Bahrain for giving me this opportunity to compete here.”
Al-Sabee defends Long Jump title
Defending Long Jump champion Hussein Taher Al-Sabee of Saudi Arabia struggled to get going thanks to windy conditions, but his 8.02m was too good for the rest of Asia in Doha.
The event was missing another world class Saudi jumper, the injured Mohamed Salman Al Khuwalidi, second in the World Athletics Final and third in the World Cup, but Al-Sabee, who was fifth at the 2003 World Championships, needed only three attempts to see off competition from Saleh Al Hadad (KUW) and another Saudi Ahmed Faez Bin Marzouq who occupied the remaining positions on the medal podium.
“I had difficulty maintaining the high level of competition today,” said Al-Sabee. “Saudi long jumping has improved because of the emergence of a new generation and better awareness of the sport. I hope to win a medal in the World Championships in Osaka next year.”
Khubbieva shocks Jayasinghe
Uzbekistan’s Guzel Khubbieva, 30, claimed the first major scalp of the Athletics at these Games when she beat Sri Lanka’s Susanthika Jayasinghe-Mannalage.
Khubbieva, who was sixth over 200m and seventh at 100m at this year’s World Cup, complimented a rasping start with a magnificent finish to take the women’s 100m victory in her new season’s best of 11.27, only one-hundredth of a second under her own lifetime best.
Four more gold medals decided
Saudi Arabia earned their second athletics gold medal of the day when Yahya Ibrahim Hassan, the 2003 World Youth Championships silver medallist stormed to victory in the men’s 100m, ahead of Japan’s race favourite Naoki Tsukahara.
There was a mini surprise in the women’s Javelin Throw with Thailand’s Buoban Pamang, 19, the triple SEA Games victor, throwing a massive personal best of 61.31m for the gold ahead of China’s Ning Ma, who was ninth at this year’s World Cup, and has a personal best of 62.38m (2003). Pamang’s winning throw was a national record improving her previous mark of 56.68m from earlier this year in Bangkok.
The Chinese duo of Li Ling (18.42m) and Li Meiju (18.08m) sealed gold and silver for their country in the women’s Shot Put. Li Ling was fifth in the World Cup this year and was also the Asian Indoor champion last winter.
Another Asian Indoor championships winner (Pentathlon) Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova sealed the women’s Heptathlon with ease. 5955 points took the gold for the World Junior silver medallist.
Lebanon earned their first athletics’ gold in the Games’ fifty-five year history when Jean Claude Rabbath won the men’s High Jump from Sergey Zassimovich. China’s Huang Haiqiang the event’s World Junior champion, surprisingly finished last.
In the heats…Kamel, Ezemi progress
Kuwait’s Mohammed Al-Azemi was the fastest qualifier in the men’s 800m qualifiers when he took his heat in 1:49.88 ahead of Bahrain’s Yusuf Kamel. However, he will not be joined in Monday’s final by the event’s World champion Rashid Ramzi, who despite being entered for three events (800m, 1500m and 5000m) will now focus only on the 1500m.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF