Imports assist Asian athletics

Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen won the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m while Bahrain’s Youssef Saad Kamel won the 800m as the Team Asia men’s squad finished in an unparalleled fourth place at the IAAF World Cup in Athens on Sunday.

Qatar's Saif Saaeed Shaheen (L) wins the 3000m steeplechase
Qatar's Saif Saaeed Shaheen (L) wins the 3000m steeplechase

The World Cup competition, which brings together the USA, top nations from Europe, and continental representative teams, had previously seen only two Asian wins in individual events in the event’s 29 year history.


Kenyan-born Shaheen, formerly named Stephen Cherono, moved to Qatar in 2003 after it was reported that he received $1 million to change his citizenship – a claim Shaheen has denied.


World record holder for the 3000m steeplechase, the 23 year old Shaheen not only took his team to their highest ever finish at the World Cup, but also earned himself $60,000 for winning two events.


“I was focused on the win and getting the maximum nine points for Asia. I wasn’t tired after winning the 5000m on the first day and I’m very satisfied at fulfilling my goals,” Shaheen said.


Kamel, born Gregory Konchellah in Kenya, was happy with his win for Team Asia and looked forward to the 15th Asiad to be held in Doha later this year.


“My race was very open so I told myself that I had every chance of winning. From this moment, I start my preparations for the Asian Games in Qatar that are coming up in December,” he said.


Adding to Team Asia’s gold medal count, Japan‘s Koji Murofushi threw to victory in the hammer, while Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi, Japanese pole vaulter Daichi Sawano and China’s world record holding 110m hurdler Liu Xiang all won silver medals in their events.


Meanwhile in the women’s competition, Ethiopian-born Bahrain runner Maryam Yusuf Jamal became the first Asian woman from outside of China to win a World Cup event when she set a Cup record of 4:00.84 in the women’s 1500m.


“Like nearly all of my Team Asia colleagues here, my focus is now on the Asian Games and I’m going to go away to the United States to prepare,” said Jamal.


The Team Asia women’s team finished seventh out of the nine teams, with Jamal’s 1500m their only win over the weekend.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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