The 23rd Asian Athletics Championships began on Sunday at the Khalifa International Stadium, seeing the first of Qatar’s hopefuls state their claim on the 186 medals on offer.
The new-look stadium held the first sprint heats as well as field events and finals in the evening, crowning the first 2019 Asian Champions. A total of 33 Team Qatar athletes, 24 male and nine female, are competing across the four-day competition for top honours in the world’s largest continent.
The story of the night was Asian Games champion Abderrahman Samba in the 400 m hurdles. Samba cruised through his semi-final to qualify for the final, where he will be looking to win the first gold for Qatar in the stadium and of the championships.
Team Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba said:
I’m feeling good. I pushed until the fifth hurdle and then relaxed tonight to finish the job. The final will be a different race. I cannot make predictions, but we will see.’
The Men’s 800 m also saw Team Qatar excite the home crowd as a trio of athletes qualified for the final. Adubaker Haydar Abdalla, Jamal Hairane and Abdirahman Saeed Hassan all did what was needed to qualify for the final.
Qualifying with the quickest time overall, Team Qatar’s Abubaker Haydar Abdalla stated:
It felt good. Hopefully I will be able to run a smooth race in the final as well and win it. The plan is to win gold and silver tomorrow along with Jamal.’
20-year-old Kenza Sosse also impressed in the Women’s 400 m heats, setting a new national record and season best. She also competed in the women’s 400 m hurdles heats.
The opening ceremony was attended by Dahlan Al Hamad, LOC Chairman, newly-reelected President of the Asian Athletics Association and Vice President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and HE Jassim Al Buenain, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Vice President of the Qatar Olympic Committee. The opening ceremony celebrated the unity of Asia with local young scouts parading the stadium representing each country in Asia paving the way for an exhilarating 4 days of competition.
From his opening speech, Dahlan Al Hamad said:
The championship takes place under ideal conditions thanks to the advanced and ground-breaking cooling technology that Khalifa International Stadium provides, which keeps the temperature at an optimal 24 degrees all the time, helping athletes to perform at their best and focus on the sport.
Besides my continental and international duties, I’m a Qatari citizen first and foremost, which makes me extremely proud to witness such moments when Doha, as a capital for sport and a destination for athletes, brings the world together.’
*Update: In a show of sheer Qatari strength in the Men’s Hammer Throw, Ashraf El Seify enters the final on the last day of the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships as a firm favourite for gold. He will step into the throwing cage at the state-of-the-art Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday evening, after qualifying top with a season’s best throw of 74.92.
Following in his brother’s footsteps, Aspire Academy graduate Ahmed El Seify also sealed a place in the Men’s Hammer Throw Final, giving Team Qatar the opportunity to win a medal in the event.
On the track, Team Qatar athletes Musaab Ali and Muhand Khamis Saifeldin will be taking on Asia’s best in the Men’s 1500 m Final.
The 23rd Asian Athletics Championships will draw to a close in Khalifa International Stadium at the closing ceremony on 24 April. Team Qatar athletes will be counting on the people of Doha to show their support by cheering from the stands for their home heroes!
Follow Team Qatar’s competitions and results at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships on Team Qatar’s social media channels and on the official website here https://bit.ly/2KWDkS2. Tickets are available for purchase through the official website https://bit.ly/2Ia5PcG
Fans can also watch the competitions live on https://bit.ly/2XB7Q5o and engage in the online conversation using @AsianAthletics on social media channel.