Oman’s young runner Mohammed al Suleimani, the only representative from the sultanate at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championship, bowed out in the preliminary heat of the 800m event at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday but not before he had something to be proud of, at least.
The 18 year old, making his debut at the worlds, finished seventh in his heat but with a personal best (PB) time of 1m:50.91s.
It was a marked improvement from his previous best time of 1:52.27, achieved during the Universiade in Napoli, Italy, on July 11, this year.
Suleimani, who began his career as a steeplechase athlete in 2017, moved into distance running events of 800m and 1,500m, only this year when he competed in the Asian Championships in Doha in April.
At the Asian meet, Suleimani had clocked 1:51.45 in 800m.
The Nizwa boy had made a mark last year when he picked a silver in the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualification meet in Bangkok, Thailand, in the 2,000m steeplechase race in a time of 5:55.91.
On Saturday, Suleimani finished overall 40th among a total of 45 athletes from across the world.
Competing in heat No 5, the Omani’s PB time was quite slow to Kenyan Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir, who clocked 1:45.16. Incidentally, the Kenyan emerged as the fastest qualifier for the semifinals. The 800m final is slated for Tuesday.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Mohammed al Asmi, a senior Oman Athletics Association (OAA) board member, said on Sunday, “We had just one wildcard entry and decided to send Mohammed as he is a young and talented athlete. It was his maiden world championship and he did well to achieve his personal best time. Such experience and exposure will help him come up with better performances in future.”
Suleimani had earlier represented Oman at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last year and had also competed in the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2017. At both the meets, he had competed in the 2,000m steeplechase event.
Meanwhile, the OAA chairman, Younis al Siyabi, attended the IAAF Congress in Doha, which was held ahead of the championships.
Heat forces delayed start
World Athletics Championships organisers delayed the start time of the women’s 20km race walk on Sunday as Doha’s heat and humidity again triggered concerns for athlete safety.
Officials said the women’s 20km scheduled on Sunday would get under way at 20.59 GMT instead of 20.30GMT.
Oldest medal for Vieira
Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle upset the form book to strike men’s long jump gold, producing the leap of his life to defeat favourite Juan Miguel Echevarria on Saturday.
The 23 year old Gayle launched himself 8.69m with his fourth attempt while Cuba’s Echevarria only managed 8.34m for bronze.
Day two concluded with all eyes on the men’s and women’s 50km walk races, with organisers nervously monitoring the progress of athletes chasing medals in sweltering conditions.
However despite steamy conditions on Qatar’s waterfront course, the two races largely passed off without any incident.
The men’s race was won by Yusuke Suzuki, who became the first Japanese athlete to win the 50km men’s race.
Suzuki’s pillar was almost outshone by Portugal’s silver medallist Joao Vieira who at 43 became the oldest male athlete to win a medal at the world championships. Canada’s Evan Dunfee took bronze. “For me, it was hell – very, very hot,” Vieira said. “How did I cope? Just a lot of ice and cold water.”
The women’s race saw a Chinese one-two with Liang Rui taking gold in 4hr 23min 26sec and Li Maocuo the silver. Italy’s Eleonora Giorgi took the bronze – defending champion Ines Henriques failed to finish.
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