JAKARTA: Bahrain and Kuwait were the big Arab winners on Sunday at the Asian Games sharing nine medals between them, while Saudi Arabia’s hunt for gold will continue into the second week of action in Indonesia after disappointment for sprinter Abdullah Abkar Mohammed in the 100m final.
Kuwaitis Ali Abdulaziz and Mansour Al-Rashidi took gold in karate -67kg and skeet shooting respectively to hand their country its first medals since being welcomed back into the Olympic fraternity. The Gulf state was banned in 2015 for the second time since 2010 for “political interference” and resulted in the country’s competitors taking part at Rio 2016 as independent athletes. The ban was lifted by the International Olympic Committee last week.
It was Bahrain, however, who enjoyed the day’s most impressive medal haul, jumping from 25th in the medal table to 12th after an afternoon in which they won four golds, a silver and two bronze in athletics.
Runner Salwa Naser set a new Asian Games record in the women’s 400m category, posting a time of 50.09 seconds inside the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex. Bahrain also claimed gold and silver in the men’s 10,000m courtesy of Hassan Chani and Abraham Cheroben, while Odiong Edidiong took gold in the women’s 100m. In the marathon event, Kenya-born Bahraini Rose Chelimo took gold in the women’s race.
Salwa Naser showed her rivals a clean pair of heels on her way to gold and a new championship record.
“I’m very happy and proud to be the Asian champion,” said Chelimo after completing the race in two hours, 34 minutes and 51 seconds. “I’m very happy and my family is very happy about my victory too. They always pray for me and hope all will be well.The weather was not too hot for me because it was just the same as in Kenya. In the future, I hope I can make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I hope I have a good run there. For now, I will take rest and a holiday for a month and go back to Kenya.”
Bahrain also claimed bronze in women’s shot put through Noora Jsim, while Ali Kasim finished third in the Men’s 400m.
Saudi Arabia are still waiting for their first gold of the Games, but Tareg Ali Hamedi, who won bronze in karate over-84kg event on Saturday, said he was delighted just to win a medal. “The competition was great and I lost in the semifinals to the Iranian player who won the gold and is one of the best in the world.
“I attended the Asian Games with the ambition of taking home gold, but God had other plans and I must thank everyone who contributed to this achievement. God is helping me and the rest of my colleagues in other sports to raise the level of the Saudi team.”
Ali Abdulaziz of Kuwait kicks out on his way to gold in the 67kg karate competition.
UAE also added four more medals on Sunday to maintain their impressive form in the sport of jiu-jitsu, while Ali Allanjawi added silver in the jet-ski endurance runabout category to the gold he had claimed in runabout limited earlier in the week.
“Before the Asian Games, I prepared myself through body fitness and boat jet-ski,” said Allanjawi.
“I achieved the gold and it was not easy. It was very hard, because all of the riders were all professionals. My next target after here is the world finals in the US; it will be two gold medals soon. I only pray and let the God do the rest.”
Meanwhile, Abdalelah Hassan of Qatar won gold in the men’s 400m after clocking 44.89s, while compatriot Ashraf Elseify won gold in the hammer throw. Tosin Ogunode finished second in the Men’s 100m, his time of 10.00s being bettered only by Asia’s new fastest man, Bingtian Su who posted a 9.92s. Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed had comfortably won his semifinal, but dropped out of the medal places in the final with a time of 10.10s to finish fourth.
Saudi Arabia’s handball misery continued meanwhile as they lost 23-30 to Iran, finishing sixth overall. Team manager Muhanna Al-Qamou had already conceded before the match that an investigation would be opened when his team arrive back on home soil on Monday after failing to make the semifinals following draws with Japan and Iraq and a defeat to Qatar.