(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Chinthana Wasala I The Peninsula
Doha: In the absence of World Champion Mutaz Barshim, star Abderrahman Samba will lead Qatar's gold quest in track and field at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.
Currently the fastest 400 metres hurdler in the world, Asian record holder Samba will be the one to watch when the athletics events begin at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on August 25.
Barshim, Qatar's most celebrated athlete, is still recovering from an ankle sprain injury which led to damaged ligaments while attempting to set a new world record height of 2.46 metres in Hungary on July 2.
Samba is only the second man to ever crack 47 seconds in the 400m hurdles and has proved that he is no match for any of the Asian athletes in his pet event.
The 27-year-old has shattered multiple Diamond League meet records during the course of the season and in Paris, clocked the world leading time of 46.98 seconds on June 30.
In the last Diamond League meet in London, Samba shifted his focus to 400 metres dash, which was dominated by compatriot Abdalelah Haroun.
Haroun raced to victory at the London Stadium, setting a new national record and his personal best of 44.07 seconds. This also makes him the fastest 400 metres sprinter in Asia this season.
According to current standings, Samba is the second fastest in Asia in the 400 metres flat event, while another Qatari athlete, Mohamed Nasir Abbas, is ranked third. Abbas clocked his personal best of 45.15 seconds during the World Challenge meet in Madrid, Spain in June.
This means they have a golden opportunity to strike an all-Qatari podium at the Asiad this time. With the three fastest 400 metres sprinters in their possession, Qatar also have the opportunity to win the gold medal in the 4x400 metres relay.
Meanwhile, the 2015 Asian Athletics Championship silver medallist and double World Junior champion hammer thrower Ashraf Elseify will also be aiming for a gold.
Elseify has won two consecutive World Junior Championships titles in 2012 and 2014 and currently holds the Junior World Record with an impressive 85.57m throw.
In the absence of Qatar's fastest man Femi Ogunode, his brother Tosin Ogunode is expected to fill his void in the 100 metres event. Tosin has not competed in the 100 metres dash this year, but he won the silver medal in 60 metres event during the Asian Indoor Championships held in Tehran, earlier this year.
Asian Championships silver medallist Ahmed Bader will carry Qatar's hopes in the men's javelin throw.
The 2014, Incheon Games bronze medallist, Jamal Hairana (800 metres), World Junior Championship bronze medallist, high jumper Mahamat Hamdi, World and Asian Under-20 discus throw champion Moaaz Ibrahim, middle distance runners Musaab Ali and former World Junior and Asian Junior champion Hamza Driouch, Jong jumper Rima Taha and Javelin thrower Mohamad Kaida will also be among the ones to watch out for.
The rest of the Qatari athletes who will be looking to impress on the Gelora Bung Karno track are, Mabrook Jahzah, Sosse Kenza, Mohamed Mohamed, Mariam Farid, Abdulrahman Al Khater, Hammer thrower Ahmed Elsify, Bashair Almanwari, Rania Alnaji, Abubaker Abdalla (800metres), Rashid Al Mannai (Triple jump), Saoud Alh (110 metres hurdles) and Yaser Bagharab (3000metres).