The UAE squad suffered a disappointing second day at the Arab Athletics Championships in Syria yesterday, as two genuine medal prospects saw their podium hopes dashed. Hammer thrower Mohammed Omar, whose personal best exceeds the 61m mark, could only manage a 56.41m effort and had to settle for sixth place, while 200m specialist Omar Juma struggled to fifth in the men's 100m final. "He was very slow at the start and I think he was confused by the starter's (gun) speed. His reactions suffered and it was not Omar's day," said UAE Athletics Federation president Ahmed al Kamali, who admitted his 12-man team were finding the going tough in Damascus.
"This is the strongest competition I have ever seen in the Arab championships. All the teams are eager to put their disappointment at the Berlin World Championships behind them and pride is at stake," added al Kamali. Late last night, the UAE had the chance to finally claim some medals in the men's 4x100m relay. Prior to the relay, Jasim Saeed pulled up during his individual 400m race to preserve energy for the team event.
"It was a tactical decision. If Jasim didn't run (in the 400m) he would not have been allowed to compete in the relay. So he started, then retired," said al Kamali. In today's events, Juma gets the opportunity to put his 100m heartache behind him when he lines up in the 200m semi-finals. Al Kamali is predicting the Emirati track star will recover his form. "It's Omar's main event and he needs to do well," he said.
Triple jumper Mohammed Abas, dubbed by al Kamali as: "the future of UAE athletics", will be gunning for the senior version of a junior regional gold he won last year, while worlds qualifier Ali Obaid Shirook lines up in the men's 400m hurdles semi-finals. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org