In a nail bitingly close finish, Qatar’s Daham Najim Bashir won a thrilling men’s 1500m final on the fourth day of Athletics action in the Khalifa Stadium at the 15th Asian Games on Sunday (10).
In the day’s two other top races, Saudi Arabia’s Hamdad Al Bishi handed Bahrain’s race favourite Brandon Allan Simpson a shock defeat in the men’s 400m, while Qatar’s Mubarak Hassan Shami, the 2005 World half Marathon silver medallist, was the commanding winner of the men’s marathon.
Seven other gold medals were also decided today.
Last-gasp effort brings Bashir 1500m gold
The day’s best action was undoubtedly found in the men’s 1500m. For the first two and three-quarter laps, the race had the makings of a typical big championship showdown as the runners elected for caution by not following a strong pace set by Kyrgyzstan’s early race leader Sergei Pakura. All the pre-race favourites, Bahrain’s 2005 World champion Rashid Ramzi, his compatriot Belal Mansoor, and Qatar’s Bashir, settled into comfortable spots behind the early pacesetter.
Bashir, who was tenth in the 2005 World Championships 1500m final which Ramzi won, was the first of these contenders to hit the front but looked to have struck too early when Ramzi and Mansoor sailed past him with 200m of the race left. Especially when not long after Mansoor powered ahead of Ramzi for what looked a certain gold.
Ramzi’s challenge faltered with 50m of the race to go, and with Bashir closing fast he first caught the World champion and then powering on stepped on the finish line at what looked exactly the same moment as Mansoor.
Yet Mansoor still thought he had done enough to win the race, but when the results flashed on the stadium’s giant screens, he collapsed down on the track in agony while Bashir burst into ecstatic celebration.
“I was prepared for any medal, but gold is great,” said Bashir, who was sixth fastest man in the world in 2005 (3:31.04). “My coach had told me to take off at 500m and I tried to follow his advice. But when the other runners passed me, I reacted very fast.”
Bronze medallist Ramzi was in awe of his conquerors. “I faced real champions today,” the Moroccan born athlete said after the race. “The race today was won and lost on tactics. I would like to congratulate the winner (Bashir) because he deserved it.”
Al-Bishi storms to 400m win
Bahrain’s Brandon Simpson, the sixth fastest man in the world in 2006 around the one lap (44.64), came into these Games as the overwhelming favourite to grab gold in the men’s 400m, but today lost narrowly to Saudi Arabia’s Hamdan Odha Al-Bishi
The 25-year-old Al-Bishi, who was the 2000 World junior champion and has a personal best of 44.66 from that win- a time which remains the national senior and Area Junior record to this day - recovered from a slow start to claw back Simpson’s lead and take victory in 45.64, four-hundredths of a second ahead of Simpson.
“I trained very well for these Games,” said a delighted Al-Bishi, who was the silver medallist four years ago. “We (he and his coach) had known that the Bahraini (Simpson) would be the most difficult challenger and we had planned a strategy to race against him. It worked and I am happy.”
A dejected Simpson cited competition overload this year for his defeat in Doha. “It is difficult to compete from December to December,” he said. “That is why I fell short today. The winner (Al Bishi) ran a good race and deserved to win it. I congratulate him and hope that next I will be lucky.”
Shami in a class of his own
There were no surprises in the men’s Marathon which took place this morning, as Qatar’s Shami commanded the race from the early stages to take victory in 2:12:44.
In relatively warmer conditions than the women’s marathon, Shami, the 2006 Prague Marathon winner who holds a 2:09:22 national record after victory in Venice last year, hit the front of today’s race after 15km.
Shami continued to exert himself, extending his lead on the chasing pack to fifteen seconds by the 25km mark. The 26-year-old eventually finished nearly three minutes ahead of Bahrain’s Khalid Kamal Yassin, who took silver after a momentous battle with Japan’s Satoshi Osaki. Both runners were credited with the same finishing time of 2:15:36, but Yassin took silver based on the verdict of the race officials.
"I broke away because everybody else in the race was running very slow,” confirmed Shami after his solo run. “The chase pack today was much too slow. That makes my gold medal much easier to get. The heat was not so bad. The humidity was very bad though. That made it harder to run."
More gold for China and Japan
As expected, the domination of the Chinese and Japanese in these championships continued on day four as the two nations won five of the ten gold medals on offer.
Liu Jing and Huang Xiaoxiao completed the hurdles double for China when they respectively won the women’s 100m Hurdles (12.93 – the only athlete under 13sec) and 400m Hurdles (55.41).
Pre-event favourite Daichi Sawano of Japan, second in the IAAF World Cup in Athens this year, took the men’s Pole Vault after clearing 5.60m on his first attempt.
Kumiko Ikeda, who has won the 2006 Osaka IAAF Grand Prix meet in a national record setting 6.86m, took the women’s Long Jump with 6.81m. She defeated the 2003 World Championship bronze medallist Anju Bobby George of India (6.52m), and Kazkhstan’s Asian Games Heptathlon champion Olga Rypakova (6.49m).
Japan’s Kenji Narisako also justified his pre-Games favourite tag by taking victory in the men’s 400m Hurdles in 48.78. China’s Yan Meng was the nearest to him with a 49.26 run.
Iran’s Ehsan Hadadi, the Asian record holder (65.25m) and 2005 continental champion recorded a season’s best of 63.79m to take victory in the men’s Discus Throw, while Kazakhstan’s Olga Tereshkova continued an impressive championship for her country when taking the women’s 400m (51.86 sec).
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
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