x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Bethlem Desaleyn strikes 1,500m gold in Asian Athletics Championships

A UAE female athlete has struck gold for the first time in track and field after her win in Pune, India.

File photo of Bethlem Desaleyn, in purple, who came up with the best effort for a UAE athlete at a major event. Paul Kitagaki Jr / Zumapress
File photo of Bethlem Desaleyn, in purple, who came up with the best effort for a UAE athlete at a major event. Paul Kitagaki Jr / Zumapress

A UAE female athlete struck gold for the first time in track and field when Bethlem Desaleyn won the 1,500 metres at the Asian Athletics Championships in India.

The distance runner won the event in 4 minutes, 13.67 seconds ahead of her Arabian Gulf rival Mimi Bele from Bahrain, with Ayoko Jinnouchi, the Japanese competitor, third.

Desaleyn's gold follows a silver for her training partner Alia Saeed in the 10,000m two days earlier.

The medal haul already represents the country's best at any major track and field championships, and left the UAE eighth in the medal table.

The two Ethiopia-born females, who train together under the guidance of the former world champion Abdi Bile, are also targeting success in the 5,000m at the event in Pune.

"This is our first gold for a woman, and just the fourth [track and field] medal in the history of the UAE," said Ahmed Al Kamali, the UAE Athletics Federation president.

"This the best games ever - with one gold and one silver - which gives us a very good ranking and we are still aiming for more medals.

"There are 37 or 38 countries below us in the rankings, which is fantastic because we only have a small team, just five people."

pradley@thenational.ae