Qatar’s 400m hurdler Abderrahman Samba qualified for this year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest after achieving the qualifying mark en route to his win at the Memorial Ottolia in Savona, Italy on Wednesday.
Samba – a world bronze medallist in 2019 – set a meet record of 48.56 secs to win the event in Italy, which is a World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting. The qualification mark for the World Championship is 48.70 secs. Home favourite and Olympic finalist Alessandro Sibilio, who was competing after two years, gave Samba a good fight but had to settle for second place in 48.72 secs. Another Qatari hurdler Bassemi Hemeida finished third after his season’s best of 49.98 secs.
The victory in Italy is a significant moment for Samba, who has been struggling with injury post the Tokyo Olympics. The 28-year-old was supposed to begin the season at the Diamond League opener in Doha last month, but was conspicuous by his absence.
In the 400m hurdles, an event that is increasingly making headlines thanks to Norway’s world record holder Karsten Warholm, Samba is the Qatari national record holder with a best of 46.98, the fifth-fastest time ever.
Samba, who finished fifth at the Tokyo Games, was unable to compete in 2022 after injuring his hamstring during warm-up for the Doha event in May. Following surgery and a lengthy period of rehabilitation, he has trained well over the winter under the guidance of his new coach, Massimo Matrone.
“I was in good shape this time last year and I was disappointed to miss out on the World Championships, but I’ve had a consistent block of training and I’m healthy and ready to race. The 400m hurdles is one of the most exciting events on the programme right now and I want to be back in the mix,” Samba had said recently.
Meanwhile, Reyner Mena, Darryl Neita, Zane Weir and Reetta Hurske also set meeting records at the 12th edition of the Memorial Ottolia in Savona, but the biggest highlight was Mattia Furlani’s wind-assisted mark of 8.44m in the men’s long jump.
European under 18 high jump and long jump champion Furlani produced the big jump in the second round to take the win. Rushval Samaai from South Africa placed second with 7.96m.
Dina Asher Smith won for the second time in her career in Savona in the women’s 200 metres in a wind-assisted 22.61 (+2.3 m/s). The former 200 metres world champion set the meeting record of 22.56 in 2021. European under 23 Dalia Kaddari from Italy finished second in 22.95.
Last year’s European and Commonwealth bronze medallist Darryl Neita from Great Britain improved the meeting record in the women’s 100 metres twice clocking 11.06 in the heat and 10.97 in the final.
Reyner Mena from Cuba ran the first sub-20 seconds time in the history of the Savona meeting in the men’s 200 metres clocking 19.95 (+1.6 m/s). Mena set the second fastest time in his career after his PB of 19.63 in La Chaux de Fonds last year. Yancarlos Martinez finished second in 20.44.
Reece Prescod from Great Britain won the 100 metres in a wind-assisted 9.94 (+2-7 m/s) beating Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon (10.01), Ivory Coast’s Arthur Cisse (10.03), Lorenzo Patta (10.08), Benjamin Azamati (10.11) and Filippo Tortu (10.17).
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