Qatar’s Abdalelah Haroun flew to a Games record timing to win the men’s 400m gold at the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, yesterday.
Haroun, who had also opened Qatar’s account at the IAAF World Championships in London last month with a bronze in the same event, clocked 45.68sec to slice 0.40 seconds off the 10-year-old mark.
The 20-year-old former world junior champion left behind Saudi Arabia’s Mazen Mawtan Alyasen (46.35) and Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Litvin (46.51) for gold.
“I am so happy to have won the gold. This is a gift for my country and for the Qatar Olympic Committee. I want to say a big thank you to them and especially for my coach,” Haroun said after the win.
Talking about his preparation for this event, Haroun said, “London was good, but this is different. I did not race after London in case I got an injury. I just wanted to stay fresh for these championships.”
However, an hour before the 400m final, Haroun did not make it past the semi-final stage in the 800m event.
“I put it in my mind, but it was just 45 minutes between races. It was too close so I decided on the 400m and just go as fast as I could,” said Haroun. “I am so happy with the gold.”
However, compatriot Jamal Hairane made it to the 800m final with a second-place finish in the second semi-final behind Iran’s Amir Moradi.
Another athlete who broke the Games record for a win was Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan, who drew on her years of experience to capture triple jump gold yesterday.
The 2012 Olympic Games champion triumphed in convincing fashion with a jump of 14.32m to add to the long jump gold she won in the Indoor Athletics Arena on Monday.
Rypakova, clear favourite after winning bronze at the IAAF World Championships in London, England, in August, put pressure on herself by failing in her first two jumps that left her one red flag away from a shock exit.
The vastly-experienced athlete made sure next time, taking off before hitting the board to register 13.96m – almost a metre further than anybody had jumped until then.
With the pressure off, Rypakova then powered out to within eight centimetres of the Games record she set in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2009 when she also sealed the jumps double.
Mariya Ovchinnikova made it a Kazakh double celebration with silver (13.21m), while Tan Qiujiao of China, the world’s leading under-18 triple jumper this year, took bronze with a personal best of 13.10m.
Viktoriya Zyabkina triumphed in the women’s 60m in 7.32 to add to Kazakhstan’s golden haul.
Elina Mikhina won the women’s 400m in 53.37 to make it three on the night and six in all for the Kazakh team who head the medal table.
Lakshmanan Govindan had too much firepower for his 3000m rivals as the Indian Army runner struck gold in 8min 02.30 seconds.
India had more success in the women’s 1500m with Chitra Palakeezh an impressive winner in 4:27.77.
The three medallists in the men’s long jump were separated by just four centimetres as the crowd were treated to a thrilling climax to the second day of action.
Tien Trong Nguyen of Vietnam won gold with his third-round leap of 7.48m, edging out Amila Wijayalath Pedige of Sri Lanka, whose effort of 7.45m saw off Hong Kong’s Chan Ming Tai by the narrowest of margins.
Sergey Grigoryev of Kazakhstan received his pole vault gold medal in the victory ceremony just 24 hours after being taken to hospital when landing on his back attempting to break his own Games record.
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