China’s Olympic champion and World record holder Liu Xiang capped an impressive year with a run-away victory in the men’s 110m Hurdles in the sixth and final day of athletics action in the Khalifa Stadium at the 15th Asian Games on Tuesday (12).
In the day’s other highlights, Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal completed a memorable middle distance double after winning the women’s 1500m, while Qatar’s James Kwalia Kurui took victory in the men’s 5000m.
Xiang, scintillating display
Before the Games, Liu Xiang’s coach Sun Haiping had told him to stay focused in his quest to defend his Asian Games title after a long and exhausting season.
But the 23-year-old was never threatened in Doha as he stormed to victory in 13.15 (-0.2m/s wind) a Games’ record, and a scintillating time considering the lateness in the season. Including Liu Xiang only seven men in the world have sprint hurdled either as fast or faster in 2006!
After a ‘sluggish’ start to the race (reaction time 0.16s), Xiang recovered to run away with victory ahead of compatriot Shi Dongpeng, who recorded a lifetime best of 13:28.
“My coach had told me not to relax,” he said after victory. “The Asian Games is a big event because it comes around once every four years. I am satisfied with my time. It is beyond my expectation.”
Jamal unopposed in women’s 1500m
Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal was equally dominant in the women’s 1500m winning her second gold of the Games following her victory over the 800m on Friday (8).
After a frantic start, the Ethiopian-born runner hit the front with only 300m of the race completed and never really looked like relinquishing her lead as the chasing pack led by Kazakhstan’s Svetlana Lukasheva tried to close the gap.
At the bell, the 22-year-old Jamal was more than 50m ahead of second placed Indian Sinimol Paulose but slightly eased her grip on the race when entering the home straight and comfortably took victory in 4:08.63. Japan’s World Junior 1500m bronze medallist Yuriko Kobayashi beat Paulose to take silver, a welcome present on her 18th birthday.
“The race was not difficult and that is why I did not wait until the end,” said Jamal. “I am happy with my gold medals in Doha. It means a lot to Bahrain.”
Kwalia kicks at the bell for 5000m victory
Following the withdrawal of Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi, the men’s 5000m turned out to be a close contest but Qatar’s James Kwalia had the last hurrah as he sprinted clear at the bell to take a commanding victory in 13:38.90.
The race developed into a closely fought battle of tactics with only five laps to go as a leading pack of three - Kwalia, his compatriot Sultan Zaman, and Bahrain’s Musir Salem Jawher - accelerated away from the rest of the field to set up an interesting finish.
Kwalia did much of the front running ahead of his opponents and when the Kenyan-born runner kicked at the bell, her challengers failed to match his speed. Jawher was the quickest to respond to Kwalia’s burst of acceleration, but it was too late as the 22-year-old Qatari easily prevailed for victory.
“I planned my tactics well and I am happy with victory,” Kwalia commented.
Three more gold medals for China
Chinese athletes yet again underlined their status as the top ranked athletics nation in Asia with victory in the men’s Triple Jump and women’s Pole Vault. In the latter event, Gao Shuying (4.30m) took victory from Malaysia’s Samsu Rosalinda, while Li Yanxi produced a lifetime best leap of 17.06m to win the men’s Triple Jump.
Korea’s Jae-Myoung Park produced 79.30m to take victory over Japan’s Yukifumi Murakami in men’s Javelin Throw.
Share of the spoils in the relays
Thailand’s sprinters broke their national record as they took a surprise victory in the men’s 4x100m relays, while China’s women won gold in the corresponding women's event.
India won their first gold of the athletics with a surprise win over the Chinese in the women’s 4x400m. But there was little surprise in the men’s 4x400m as Saudi Arabia’s Asian Games 400m champion Hamdan Odha Al-Bishi anchored his team to gold. The 25-year-old had been unlucky not to have come away with three medals having taken fourth place in the men’s 200m.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
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