The 23rd Asian Athletics Championships began today 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 400m hurdles. Samba cruised though his semi-final to qualify for the final tomorrow at 17:20 local time, where he will be looking to win the first gold for Qatar in the stadium and of the championships.
Team Qatar’s 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 800m 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 tomorrow’s final at 19:06.
Qualifying with the quickest time overall, Team Qatar’s Abubaker Haydar Abdalla said: “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 400m heats, setting a new national record and season best. She also competed in the women’s 400m hurdles heats.
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), 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 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.”
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
Source: Press release
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