2015 had been outstanding for Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla, but it seems that the best is yet to come for the 26-year-old Qatari middle-distance runner. The 800m reigning Asian indoor and outdoor champion has high hopes for 2016, starting from the Asian Indoor Championships which is due to take place in Doha from February 19 to 21 in Aspire Dome.
“It is true that 2015 was exceptional for me, nevertheless I am not only hoping to keep up the same pace in 2016, but achieve even better results. The first challenge lying ahead is the Asian Indoor Championships, a very special competition for all members of the Qatari team, since it is being held on home turf” says Balla a 2015 two-lap World Outdoor Championships finallist.
Balla is one of the most recognisable figures in Qatar athletics and as a distinct member of the nation’s Asian Championships squad he will certainly be backed not only by his family and friends, but by all local fans in the Aspire Dome arena, a support that will surely provide him with extra motivation to claim first place in the 800m final.
“Competing in Aspire’s beautiful track with my closest people by my side means a lot to me and makes me want to push myself harder to live up to their expectations and succeed in front of the home crowd. I want to make them all proud, especially our federation who is taking care of all our needs and offer us unlimited support.
“This year we may boast of having a fantastic team which can push Qatar become Asia’s best nation once more and repeat the 2014 feat. I truly believe that this team has more potential to top the medal table and can count on the experience we all have gained by competing at international events in recent years.”
Winning in Doha is not Balla’s ultimate target for the indoor season. After narrowly missed the Asian indoor record last year when he was clocked 1:45.48 in Stockholm, the world’s top mark indoors, he has now set sights on eclipsing Yusuf Saad Kamel’s 1:45.26, the fastest 800m run by an Asian.
“I want to break that record desperately. I came so close to beating it last season and I feel my time has come to become Asia’s number one at last. I just need the right race and an ideal pace.”
To make it so, Balla has worked on new race tactics and training regimes which he aims will assist him show an even more competitive spirit ahead of a quite challenging year which will be culminated with the XXXISummer Olympic Games in Rio.
“As I said before, I hope 2016 will prove to be a great year for me. This season is extremely important mostly because of the Olympics. The progress I made in 2015 was outstanding, but I needed to make more changes in my training and find the race tactic that suits me the most in order to go one step beyond”, deems Balla whose personal best (and national record) outdoors is 1:43.82 set last July in Barcelona, in one of his career’s only two sub-1:44 runs.
RECORDS BALLA TARGETS TO BEAT INDOORS
Area: 1:45.26 by Yusuf Saad Kamel (Bahrain) set on 9 Mar 2008 in Valencia
Asian Indoor Champs: 1:47.37 by Mohammad Al-Azemi (Kuwait) set on 19 Feb 2012 in Hangzhou
National: 1:45.48 by Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla set on 19 Feb 2015 in Stockholm
BALLA’S ASIAN INDOOR CHAMPS HONOURS
2008 3rd 3:17.93 (4x400m)
2010 2nd 1:54.25 (800m)
2014 1st 1:50.27 (800m)
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