Mohamed Al-Garni at the 2016 Asian Indoor Championships (© Organisers)
Another Asian indoor record and six competition records fell on the second day of the 7th Asian Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar, but it was local star Mohamed Al-Garni’s successful 1500m title defence that brought the crowd to their feet in the Aspire Dome on Saturday (20).
The 23-year-old exuded overwhelming confidence as he broke from a four-man pack 100 metres from the finish, pounding his chest and motioning to the crowd as he breezed down the home straight.
It was an early celebration, and perhaps one that he might ruefully regret on reflection, as it added a couple of seconds to his final time and kept him just 0.07 seconds shy of the Asian indoor record.
Nevertheless, he clocked a 3:36.35 competition record, the third-fastest performance in the world this season.
“I could have run faster but I was overwhelmed by the crowd’s support and I wasted time celebrating in the final straight,” said Al-Garni. “It’s such a fantastic feeling to win at home.”
Bahrain's Benson Seurei, who did most of the early pacing, held off Qatar’s Said Aden Said’s late charge to take silver, 3:37.08 to 3:37:29.
As expected, Oluwakemi Adekoya dominated the women’s 400m as the 23-year-old Bahraini notched her second Asian indoor record in as many days.
Running in lane five, Adekoya made up the stagger on her chief rival Elina Mikhina to her outside just 100 metres into the race and went on to win by more than two seconds. Her 51.67 performance knocked another 0.01 from the continental indoor record she set in qualifying yesterday.
Adekoya confirmed that she’ll be competing at the World Indoor Championships but that outdoors her focus would remain on the 400m hurdles.
The men’s contest went according to the playbook with local star Abdalelah Haroun taking an impressive victory in 45.88, another championship record.
“I gave all I had left in the tank, but I certainly can go faster,” said the 19-year-old Haroun, whose performance was the best Asian indoor time of the year and the fastest U20 indoor outing of 2016. “My target here was to win the race, nothing more. Next stop for me is Portland.”
Bahrain's Abbas Abubaker, also only 19, took the silver in 46.60.
Middle-distance double triumph for Desalegn
Betlhem Desalegn became the championships' first double winner after her resounding triumph in the 3000m.
The 24-year-old broke from Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet and her UAE teammate Alia Mohamed Saeed with 80 metres remaining en route to her 8:44.59 run, the fourth-fastest time of the year.
“I needed to push hard, to meet the qualification standard for Portland," said Desalegn, who's been hobbled by achilles-related injuries over the past three seasons. "I am still not 100 percent fit, but I will fight for a medal at the Worlds after finishing sixth (at the 2014 World Indoor Championships) in Sopot."
Jebet clocked 8:47.24 to finish second with Saeed (8:48.62) taking bronze.
Huang Bokai takes pole vault title at 5.75m
Following Li Ling's lead from the opening night, Huang Bokai secured another pole vault title for China – and for their French coach Damien Inocencio – with a 5.75m championship record, yet another career best for the 19-year-old.
Bokai secured the win after topping 5.70m on his second attempt before sailing clear at 5.75m with his first. He later bowed out with three tries at a would-be 5.82m national indoor record.
Japanese Seito Yamomoto and Hiroki Ogita topped 5.60m and 5.50m respectively to finish second and third.
Likewise, both triple jump titles were claimed for Kazakhstan. In the women’s event, Olympic champion Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan took gold as expected, her 14.32m winning leap being the second-best performance of the year.
“The Asian Championships was a just a break from my Olympics preparation, that’s why I wasn’t in a very good shape,” said Rypakova, who clearly had been hoping for more.
She confirmed that she’ll be back in Doha for the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting on 8 May.
India's long jump winner Mayookha Johny finished second in the triple jump with 14.00m, adding five centimetres to her own national indoor record.
Roman Valiyev took top honours on the men’s side at 16.69m, comfortably ahead of India’s Renjith Maheswary, who was second with 16.16m.
Hu Yufei of China leads the men’s heptathlon overnight with 3226 points. Mohmmaed Jasem Alqaree of Saudi Arabia is a close second with 3193.
Uzbekistan's Ekaterina Voronina was finally confirmed a the winner of Friday’s women's pentathlon with 4224 points. Iran's Sepideh Hossein (3828) and Japan's Chie Kiriyama (3637) finished second and third respectively.
A protest filed by Iran, against India's Swapna Barman for a lane infringement in the 800m, was upheld on Saturday after Barman had initially finished second behind Voronina.
Bob Ramsak (organisers) for the IAAF