Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saudi runner takes men's 1,500 Asian Games title

Maryam Jamal AVIVA GRAND PRIX - BirminghamImage via Wikipedia
Mohammed Othman Shaween came from behind to defend his title in the men's 1,500 meters at the Asian Games on Tuesday, while a strong finish by Maryam Yusuf Jamal brought her the women's gold with room to spare.
Shaween took over on the last lap from Saudi Arabia teammate Emad Hamed Noor, who led for the first three laps then faded at the end, and finished at 3 minutes, 36.49 seconds. Finishing second was Sajad Moradi of Iran at 3:37.09. The bronze went to Belal Mansoor Belal Ali of Bahrain at 3:38.39.
"I expected it to be harder, but it still wasn't easy," Shaween said. "Our Iranian colleague was tough. I was out with an injury until August, but that was lucky for me because I was in good shape for this race."
Shaween said Noor suggested the winning strategy.
"He asked me to be patient, follow him and rush in the last 100 meters," Shaween said.
In the women's race, Jamal, the 2009 world champion, and Bahrain teammate Mimi Belete Gebregiorges moved to the front of the pack on the final lap. Jamal sprinted on to win in 4 minutes, 8.22 seconds. Vietnam's Thanh Hang Truong overcame Gebregiorges in the final 50 meters to claim the silver, at 4:09.58.
"We didn't discuss the race beforehand, we just ran the way we felt," Jamal said.
Both of the Bahrain athletes formerly competed for Ethiopia. But Jamal said she did not switch to find easier competition.
"It's not about where you race," Jamal said. "It's about how hard you train."
Another Bahrain runner claimed gold in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, with Tareq Mubarak Salem Taher crossing the line in 8:25.89 to beat Thamer Kamal Ali of Qatar, who was 8:26.27.
Yuliya Tarasova of Uzbekistan, who also took bronze in the long jump, won the women's heptathlon with 5,783 points.
The field event winners Tuesday were an international smorgasbord.
South Korea's Jung Soon-ok, who was fifth in the 2006 Asian Games but failed to qualify for the World Championships last year, took the women's long jump with a leap of 6.53 meters; host China's Li Yangfeng won the discus gold at 66.18 meters; Qatar high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, the Asian junior champion, cleared 2.27 meters to claim a win.
All the winning marks were well off regional and world records, prompting criticism that the Asian Games, an Olympic-style event held once every four years, are not producing results fitting for a continent that represents two-thirds of the world's population.
"The quality of the competition is good, but one of the problems that we have in Asia is that our season is too long," 1,500 champion Shaween said. "The Americans and Europeans are finished now, but we in Asia don't know when we are supposed to finish. This is especially a problem for us in my region."

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