x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Salfa wins first medal for UAE at Asian championships

The sprinter picks up bronze in the 200 metres to ensure the UAE do not leave Japan empty handed on the final day of the Asian Athletics Championships.

KOBE, JAPAN // Omar Al Salfa won the UAE's first medal on the final day of the Asian Athletics Championships in Japan with a bronze in the men's 200 metres.

Al Salfa, who won gold in the event in 2009 in China, had to settle for third behind Qatar's Nigerian-born sprinter, Femi Ogunode, and Japan's Hitoshi Saito.

The UAE sprinter was also third to Ogunode in the Asian Games in China last November.

The Qatari bettered his Asian Games time yesterday by two tenths of a second to set a new championship record of 20.41 seconds. Al Salfa's 20.97 secs was more than three tenths off the UAE runner's personal best.

Al Salfa's medal is the UAE's first in the four-day event, after near misses in the women's 1,500m and 5,000m.

Meanwhile, the Chinese star hurdler Liu Xiang set a new championship record in the 110-metre hurdles to successfully defend his title. The former world record holder, who turns 28 on Wednesday, clocked a new best time of 13.22 secs to beat his compatriot Shi Dongpeng, who came home in 13.56, and Park Taek-yong of South Korea in 13.66.

It was a repeat performance of the Asian Games last year, when the three finished in the same places.

It was the injury-prone Liu's fourth victory out of four Asian championships, following triumphs in 2002, 2005 and 2009.

In the women's 200m, Japan's Chisato Fukushima added another continental title to her Asian Games gold medal when she finished top in 23.49.

Gretta Taslakian of Lebanon was second in 24.01 and Saori Imai of Japan third in 24.06.

"I'm happy to win the title, but this is not good enough for the world championships," admitted Fukushima, who became only the fourth sprinter to win both the Asian Games and the Asian Championships.

"I made several mistakes today. I think I can run faster. I'm going to improve further so that I can compete against top runners in the world in the remaining one month."