Samba makes stunning comeback from injury with Worlds bronze
September 30 2019 11:48 PM
Qatar's Abderrahman Samba celebrates winning bronze in Men's 400m Hurdles final. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Qatar's Abderrahman Samba celebrates winning bronze in Men's 400m Hurdles final. PICTURE: Jayan Orma

For a moment, Abderrahman Samba thought he had missed a world medal by a whisker. The Qatari dropped down to his knees as he looked at the giant screen at the Khalifa International stadium.

But as the screen flashed the results of the 400m hurdles, Samba was up in a flash as the crowd joined him in a celebratory roar. The Qatari hurdler, who was laid low by injuries for most of the year, had won a bronze at the IAAF World Championships. And it is bound to be a popular third-place finish in Qatar’s sporting history as it came on home soil.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm won gold in 47.42 seconds, while the United States’ Rai Benjamin took silver in 47.66.

Samba’s time was 48.03, but at one point it looked like the Qatari athlete would struggle to make it to the podium. Samba was never in the running for gold, but nonetheless ran a well-judged race. The local hero outpaced Kyron McMaster of British Virgin Islands in the final strides to snatch a bronze.

“I think I cannot explain this feeling today because it’s amazing,” said Samba as he went for a lap of honour around Khalifa stadium. “I know third place was not my (desired) place but I say thank God because three days ago I was not sure to compete or not.

“This season was very hard for me because I had a lot of injuries. I say thank you God because I’m here tonight and I celebrate with this medal,” the 24-year-old said.

Samba was already looking forward to the next showdown against his rivals. “Actually, I started to prepare for next season now because I’m happy with the medal but I’m not happy with the place. I’m going to prepare myself for next season now,” he declared.

At the half-way point, it was Benjamin who took the lead, but Warholm kept the American in his sights. The World No.1 Warholm pulled away from Benjamin over the final three barriers to defend his world title.

Warholm said he was not expecting to win gold, despite carrying the favourite’s tag. “It’s very easy to say that you knew (I would win) afterwards. I want to say it too, but I wasn’t too sure, to be honest.

“This was a very tough race. I actually felt my heart was going to stop, it’s no joke! I actually had pain in my chest, thinking I’m going to die but it’s going be worth it. And here I am, world champion and I’m not dead either,” the Norwegian said.

“This is only the beginning. I’m very lucky to win. In the future, these guys are going to be even tougher to beat so tomorrow I’ve gotta get up and work again. That’s what I love, always one more,” Warholm added.

Meanwhile, Muktar Edris sent Ethiopian fans at the stadium into a frenzy as he defended his 5000m title in a stunning 12minutes 58.86 seconds. With Edris not at his best coming into the event, it was supposed to be a wildly unpredictable race.

The 25-year-old had finished 11th and 18th in his two Diamond League races this season, and there was a huge question mark over him finishing even in the top three on Monday. Edris also had the slowest season’s best out of the finalists but the 2017 champion kept his stranglehold in the event with a stunning final 200m run where he outsprinted compatriot Selemon Barega.

Canadian Mohamed Ahmed denied an Ethiopian podium sweep as he pushed Telahun Haile Bekele to fourth place and picked up bronze. Even as the lead fluctuated frequently, the Ethiopians ran as a team and it paid rich dividends.

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the European champion, in a rare occurrence competed with his older brothers Henrik and Filip. Jakob stayed in touch with the leading pack before taking a lead momentarily at the start of the final lap, but faded away as the Ethiopians took control. While Jakob finished fifth, Henrik was 13th out of 15 winners, Filip failed to finish the race.

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Beatrice Chepkoech demolished the field to finally land a world title with a championships record time of 8:57.84 secs. Two years ago in London, the Kenyan had missed the first water jump, having to double back and clear it, then took a tumble and was spent late in the race.

Last night, Chepkoech flew to a quick start and established a 20m lead, never to look back as she cruised to the title. The 28-year-old is a world record holder as she lived up to her top billing as she won by a huge margin of five seconds.

Defending champion Emma Coburn of United States had to be content with silver medal this time, with a bronze for German Gesa Felicitas Krause, which came in a national record time.

“I was excited to be in front and controlled. I am glad to improve the championships record because I knew the time Emma ran in London so I really wanted to break CR today,” said Chepkoech after winning the race.

“I want to dedicate this medal to my parents – my dad and mum.”

Meanwhile, Halima Nakaayi outsprinted Diamond League champion Ajee Wilson over the home stretch to win the 800m women’s race in a Ugandan record of 1:58.04.

Pre-race favourite Wilson of the US tried to dictate the pace from the front. But the Ugandan challenge was coming with Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo attacking the long-time leader.

Nakaayi soon asserted herself at the front to take gold in 1:58.04 with Wilson losing second to her teammate Raevyn Rogers as Nanyondo faded into fourth.

Russian Mariya Lasitskene continued her dominance by becoming the first three-time women’s high jump world champion.

In a tense final, the 26-year-old, who is one of only 30 Russian athletes allowed to compete in Doha under the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) banner, took gold ahead of Ukraine's 18-year-old Yaroslava Mahuchikh.

Lasitskene, the 2015 and 2017 champion, claimed victory after clearing a height of 2.04m to win on count-back ahead of Mahuchikh. Vashti Cunningham of the United States took bronze.

Sweden’s Daniel Stahl, the heavy favourite, won the discus title with a throw of 67.59m. Fedrick Dacres of Jamaica won silver with 66.94 and Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger took bronze with 66.82.

Last updated: October 01 2019 12:17 AM

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