Bahrain’s Youssef Saad Kamel perfectly timed his tactics to take victory in the men’s 800m on the fifth day of Athletics action in the Khalifa Stadium at the 15th Asian Games on Monday (11).
China’s World Junior champion Xue Fei capped an encouraging year with a well won victory in the women’s 5000m, and Kazkhstan’s Olympic bronze medallist Dmitriy Karpov was too strong for the rest of Asia as he comfortably took the men’s Decathlon.
Kamel gets tactics spot-on in thrilling 800m
The performance of the day belonged to Kamel, IAAF World Cup winner and sixth fastest in the world this year (1:43.61, Rieti 27 Aug), who finely judged his finishing kick to win the men’s two laps.
The eight starters settled in behind Qatar’s Abdulrahman Ahmed Suleman who took the runners through the first 400m in 50.91 with Kuwaiti’s Mohammed Al-Azemi and Iran’s Ehsan Mohajershojaei heading the rest of the chasing pack.
At the bell, Al-Azemi was the first runner to hit the front, but he was caught by Kamel with 100m of the race left. Al-Azemi launched a late comeback assault on the Kenyan-born runner in the final 100m of the race, but the 25-year-old held on comfortably to take victory in 1:45.74 ahead of Al Azemi (1:46.25) with Mohajershojaei taking bronze.
"My race was amazing," said Kamel the son of Kenya’s Billy Konchellah, 1987 and 1991 World 800m champion. "I came here to win and am very, very happy. I thought for sure I have a chance to win the race but I was surprised.”
"I ran according to my plan, which was to kick with 800m to go. I knew myself so I did not panic when the others kicked at the 200m mark," the winner said.
Patience pays dividends for Fei in women’s 5000m
China’s Xue Fei maybe only 17, but the manner in which she toyed with the best of Asia here she might have been running at the top level for many years.
Bahrain’s Nadia Ejjafini, formerly of Morocco, did the front running for more than eleven laps, and as the 26-year-old gradually upped the tempo of the race, the starting field of ten runners capitulated one by one with only six runners in the hunt at the end of the fifth lap.
Japan’s Kayo Sugihara tried to share some of the leading responsibility with Ejjafini and their effort increased the pace some more and reduced the chasing pack down to three runners with Xue, India’s Jaisha Orchatteri, and her compatriot Preeja Sreedharan remaining in the hunt.
Sreedharan was the first to drop off with two laps of the race to go as the runners set themselves up for grand finish. With Ejjafini still leading, her opponents showed a lack of ambition to steal an early victory.
Orchatteri was the first to kick at the bell, but Sugahara and Xue both closed in quickly to make the race a three-way battle to the finish. But both Sugahara and Orchatteri had little answer when Xue kicked with 50m to go. The 17-year-old turned back to check whether she had done enough to take victory and raced across the finish line in 15:40.12.
“My plan was to sprint in the last 50 metres,” she said. “In the beginning of the race, I just followed the others. When coming to the last 50 metres, I worked very hard to sprint. I didn’t care. No matter what happened and I made it.”
Expected gold for Karpov
Kazakhstan’s Asian recordholder (8725) Dmitriy Karpov, who had taken the silver medal four years ago and has since won bronze medals at the 2003 Worlds and the 2004 Olympics was the outstanding favourite in the men’s Decathlon, and his victory was never in doubt as he collected 8384 points.
Karpov took wins in the first three events - 100m, Long Jump, and Shot Put - to race 346 points ahead of his closest challenger P.J. Vinod of India. At the end, he won seven of his ten events over the two days and ended up 615 points ahead of Uzbekistan’s silver medallist Vitaliy Smirov, and South Korea’s Kim Kun-Woo who took bronze.
Other highlights: Saudi gold in shot, two more Chinese gold medals
In the day’s other action, Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Mubarak Al-Hebshi released a lifetime best of 20.42m to defeat Qatar’s Asian record holder Khalid Habash Al-Suwaidi in the men’s Shot Put.
The Chinese duo of Xie Limei and Song Amin again underlined their country’s dominance in these Games with victory in the women’s Triple Jump and Discus Throw respectively. Song threw a lifetime best of 63.52m to see off her compatriot Ma Xuejun in the Discus, while Xie jumped 14.32m to steal gold from Uzbekistan’s Anastasiya Juravleva on her fourth attempt.
Bahrain’s Ruqaya Al Ghasara denied Uzbekistan’s Guzel Khubbieva a 100m/200m double when she took gold in the women’s 200m.
Japan’s Shingo Suetsugu comfortably won the men’s 200m in 20.60 seconds, while Kazkhstan’s Marina Aitova was the only jumper to clear 1.93m in a tightly-contested women’s High Jump.
Earlier in the day, China’s World 110m Hurdles record holder Liu Xiang comfortably progressed to Tuesday’s final after winning his heat in 13.74 seconds.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
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