Saturday night was supposed to be Ali Obaid Shirook's big moment at the World Championships. Instead, it ended in heartbreak as the Gulf champion limped off the track with a thigh injury midway through his 400m hurdles heat. Starting from lane one, the Dubai police warrant officer jumped the first hurdle with ease before a sudden pain in his lower back forced him to pull out. "I felt this sudden jab in my right thigh, I just could not run after that," he said. "I cannot really explain how disappointed I am. It's like when your dream is shattered. "I had worked really hard for this event, with all my heart. But this is God's will and there is little I can do."
Watching the finish from the side of the track, Shirook, one of UAE's two qualifiers for the event along with Omar al Salfa, must have been bitterly upset, for his goal of a semi-final spot looked within reach. Australia's Brendon Cole clinched the third qualifying spot from the heat with a time of 49.63, which was not far from Shirook's best of 49.66 at the GCC Championships in May. "I thought I had a great chance of reaching the semi-finals," Shirook said. "I had got lane one, was running well and feeling really good. I could have easily qualified for the next round." Ahmed al Kamali, the president of the UAE Athletics Federation, said from the venue: "We are very disappointed. Not just Obaid, but all of us because we had really high expectations.
"If you look at the times in the heat, I believe he had a very good chance of progressing to the semi-finals." Shirook, 29, had been training in Sweden since the start of the June. "We don't have any excuses," added al Kamali. "He had been training well, without any problems. He was at a good level and recorded some good times in training. So we all are very surprised about the injury. It has come as a shock."
Al Salfa, 19, also booked his ticket to Berlin at the GCC Championships, winning the 200m in 20.72secs. His first heat in Germany is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, at 12.05pm. "All our hopes are on Omar now," said al Kamali. "We hope he can help us tide over this disappointment with a strong showing." Meanwhile, Olympic and world champion Olga Kaniskina was in a class of her own when he she raced to a 20km walk gold medal yesterday.
The Russian, 24, took the lead at the six kilometre mark and led till the finish, with a time of 1hr 28min 10secs that left the test of the field scrambling for the other medals. Ireland's Olive Loughnane held on for silver 49secs behind, just ahead of China's Liu Hong. Kaniskina's win meant Russian women have won the last five 20km walk golds at the event. The men's gold also went to a Russian Olympic champion, Valeriy Borchin.