By Mikhil Bhat/Doha
Hosts Qatar had a good day in office on the first day of the Asian Athletics Championships with seven of their athletes going a step closer to the podium in the track events at the Khalifa International Stadium yesterday.
Mighty Abderrahman Samba almost strolled the last few metres of his 400m hurdles heat yesterday to top the charts with a time of 49.57 seconds.
Compatriot Bassem Hemeida also qualified for today evening’s final, finishing third behind Samba in a time of 49.98 seconds.
“The plan for today was to push until the fifth hurdle, and then relax and finish the job. The final will be a different race,” Samba said after the race.
He added: “I didn’t want to spend too much energy; wanted to keep some for tomorrow. I am working good. This is my first 400m hurdles run in competition this year, and tomorrow I am only going for the medal, and I will have to run fast to win that.”
Hemeida, who had won silver at last year’s World U20 Championships in Tampere, Florida, was looking forward to today’s final. “It is a different feeling because it is my first senior competition. Other athletes are very strong. I feel good, and Insha Allah tomorrow, I will do my best,” he said.
The men’s 100m sprint saw Tosin Ogunode and Jaber al-Mamari qualifying for today’s semi-final. Ogunode, whose brother Femi holds the championship record of 9.91 seconds, finished just behind Bahrain’s Andrew Fisher in the first heat, posting a time of 10.22 seconds.
The final heat saw al-Mamari finish fourth in a time of 10.74 seconds for his place in the semi-finals.
“This is just a qualifying time. We will see in the semi-final. You just have to go as the race flows and take it as it comes,” Ogunode said.
Al-Mamari, running in his first senior competition, said, “It was a hard run. It is great that I qualified. I wish to do better in the semi-finals. I am hoping to go to the final.”
After making through the first round heats in the morning comfortably, Abubaker Haydar Abdalla, Abdirahman Saeed Hassan and Jamal Hairane also clinched their spot in today’s men’s 800m final.
Abdalla ran the fastest time of 1:49.62 in the semi-finals last evening at the comfortably-cooled Khalifa International Stadium.
Hassan was fifth fastest with a time of 1:50.50, while Hairane, who had won silver at the last edition in Bhubaneswar, India, was seventh fastest in 1:50.73.
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