Abderrahman Samba retained his 400m hurdles title at the Hangzhou Asian Games Tuesday, while Bassem Hemeida took silver making it an historic 1-2 for Qatar.
Former Worlds bronze medallist Samba, who has been troubled by injuries in recent years, cruised to a comfortable victory in 48.04 secs at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. Hemeida, who has been a rising star in the 400m hurdles, went toe-to-toe with his compatriot but finished 0.154 secs off Samba with a personal best of 48.52 secs. Zhiyu Xie took bronze in 49.16 secs.
Qatar also assured two more medals in squash and handball. Abdulla al-Tamimi entered the semis-finals of the singles squash with 3-0 (11-2, 11-7. 11-2) win over Malaysia’s Mohamed Bin Bahtiar, while the handball team are on course to defend their gold after entering the final with a 29-24 win over Kuwait Tuesday.
Samba, who was fifth at the Tokyo Olympics but has been plagued by injuries, could not have asked for a better comeback. “I am proud to win this medal because it came at a very difficult time for me. It came after a series of injuries, including two injuries this season. But, thank God, I succeeded in overcoming all the difficulties and was able to return with all strength and win the gold medal,” he said Tuesday.
"It is wonderful to end the season with this medal and this will serve me as a great motivation before the 2024 Paris Olympics Qatar coming 1-2 makes it really special. Now we have two medals in 400m hurdles, that is really difficult at a world level," the 28-year-old said.
Hemeida was a semi-finalist at the Budapest World Championship in August and the 23-year-old underlined his quality with another big performance Tuesday. “My happiness is doubled in winning the silver because the gold was also won by Qatar through Samba. We feel very proud after this achievement and I cannot describe my feeling in words,” he said.
"It won silver, especially since I suffered an injury at the beginning of the season. But thankfully I came back with all my strength. My target was to win gold, though I fell short. This season was wonderful for me because I achieved many goals, including finishing first in the Arab and Asian Championships. This silver medal at the Asian Games will push him to work harder for the Paris Olympics," Hemeida added.
Meanwhile, Abdulrahman Hassan missed out on the bronze by a whisker in the 800m. The young Qatari was passed over by Oman’s Husain al-Farsi on the line.
In an intensive race, Saudi Arabia's Essa Kzwani won the gold with 1:48.05, India's Mohamed Afsal finished second with 1:48.43, while al-Farsi took bronze with 1:48.51.

Barshim goes for gold Wednesday

Qatar will expect more medals from athletics Wednesday. Three-time high-jump world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim will be hoping to regain his Asian Games gold, having missed the previous edition in Jakarta due to injury. The reigning Olympic gold medallist won Asiad titles in 2010 and 2014 and is determined to cap his 2023 season with another.
On Monday, he needed only a single jump of 2.19m to lead the field into Wednesday's gold-medal showdown. His chief rival is South Korea's Woo Sang-hyeok, the 2022 world silver medallist who won the Diamond League trophy in Eugene that Barshim skipped, with a personal best 2.35m.
Barshim has extra motivation to get back on top of the Asian Games podium after being shocked at the Budapest world championships by Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi, who denied him a fourth consecutive title.
Mohamed al-Garni and Yasser Baghrab will be gunning for medals in the 5,000 meters final, while the 4x400m relay team has a good chance of finishing in the podium.
Al-Garni, who won the 1,500m gold on Sunday, holds the Asian Games record in the 5,000m which he achieved in Incheon, South Korea in 2014. The relay team finished second in the heats Tuesday behind India to qualify for the final.