x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Al Salfa wins Emirates' fifth medal

Bronze in 200m confirms his potential but the youngster could not repeat his time from heats which would have earned him silver.

Qatar’s 200m gold medalist Femi Ogunode, centre, poses on the podium with Japan’s Kenji Fujimitsu, left, and the UAE’s Omar al Salfa.
Qatar’s 200m gold medalist Femi Ogunode, centre, poses on the podium with Japan’s Kenji Fujimitsu, left, and the UAE’s Omar al Salfa.

GUANGZHOU, China // Omar al Salfa added to the UAE's growing medal tally and confirmed his promise as the country's most exciting track athlete by winning the bronze medal in the men's 200m final yesterday.

The Emirati, who turned 21 last month, won his heat in 20.63secs, shaving 0.09secs off his previous best time, set at the world championship in Berlin last year. A repeat of that performance would have been enough to win him the silver medal in the Aoti Main Stadium yesterday.

Instead he had to be content with third place after finishing behind Femi Ogunode, the Qatar gold medallist, and Japan's Kenji Fujimitsu. It was the UAE's fifth medal of the games. Ogunode, 19, who also clinched gold in the men's 400m here, clocked a personal-best 20.43secs to win the 200 from Fujimitsu. The teenager from Qatar was excited about achieving the 200-400 double, as the American Michael Johnson did at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"I'm at the peak of happiness," Ogunode said. "During training I had run in 19 seconds flat, so I was very confident that I would win."

Another star sprinter, however, dropped out of the final. Ogunode's Qatari teammate, the Asian 100m record-holder Samuel Francis, skipped the race after hurting a hamstring in his heat. The withdrawal came after he was disqualified in the 100 semis for a false start.

Chisato Fukushima won the women's 200 in 23.62secs, adding to her earlier gold in the 100m. Vietnam's Vu Thi Huong, the bronze medallist in the 100, trailed by 0.12secs. The 22-year-old Japanese had such a margin off the bend she could afford to slow towards the end.

"After winning the first gold medal I didn't relax but just strived to get myself to the best mental and physical condition," Fukushima said, adding she is aiming for a third gold in a relay on Friday.

India swept the 400m hurdles gold medals, with Joseph Ganapathiplackal Abraham winning the men's race in a personal-best 49.96secs and Ashwini Chidananda Akkunji winning the women's title in 56.15secs.

The fifth day of the athletics competition saw a flurry of activity, with 11 golds on offer. Organisers, however, had to cope with audience fatigue after the emotional climax of Chinese track star Liu Xiang's win in the men's 110m hurdles on Wednesday.

Liu delighted the home audience by making up for his pullout from the Beijing Olympics two years ago, but with his program complete, turnout at the 80,000-seat stadium last night scaled back from the estimated 73,000 the day before.

South Korea's Lee Yeon-kyung won a photo finish in the women's 100m hurdles, edging Kazakhstan's Natalya Ivoninskaya by a 100th of a second. China's Sun Yawei was third, 0.04secs behind the winner.

The Kazakh Margarita Matsko and the Iranian Sajad Moradi relied on late bursts to win the women's and men's 800 finals. Matsko set a personal best of 2mins 00.29secs in the women's race, while Moradi posted a games record of 1min 45.45secs, helped by his brother Amir, who set the early pace.

Two established Bahraini runners faltered in the 800m. The two-time 1,500 world champion Maryam Yusuf Isa Jamal was sixth in the women's race after winning gold in her signature event in Guangzhou. Her teammate, Belal Mansoor Belal Ali, a bronze-medallist in the 1,500, was last in the men's race.

Kazakhstan's Olga Rypakova showed her versatility by taking the women's triple jump with a winning distance of 14.78m, marking the third Asiad athletics event in which she has landed a medal. She was also a silver-medallist in the long jump in Guangzhou and won gold in the women's heptathlon in Doha four years ago.

Yuki Ebihara of Japan topped the women's javelin field with a throw of 61.56m a personal best.

Dmitriy Karpov gave Kazakhstan its third gold by winning the men's decathlon with 8,026 points.

The lack of Chinese favourites gave other Asian countries a chance to catch up in the medals race, but the hosts still led with 10 after yesterday's program, with India and Kazakhstan level at second with four each. Japan, South Korea, Bahrain and Qatar each have three.