Barshim Spearheads Qatar's Challenge As Hurdlers Set To Make Olympic History

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Fawad Hussain | The Peninsula

The Peninsula takes a look at Team Qatar's track and field stars who have qualified for the Paris Games

Doha, Qatar: In his fourth appearance at the Summer Olympic Games, Mutaz Barshim, 32, will again lead Qatar's medal hopes as five Al Annabi track and field athletes are gearing up for this year's Games in Paris.

The high jump superstar – having also clinched silver in London and Rio olympics – is aiming for his second consecutive Gold after famously sharing the victory with his Italian friend and opponent Gianmarco Tamberi in the COVID-delayed Tokyo Games three years ago.

Mutaz Barshim

The Olympics are scheduled to be held from July 26 to Aug 11 with athletics events getting underway on August 1.

Barshim faces a strong field in his bid to retain gold but hopes are high from the three-time world champion who has often proved himself a big competition athlete.

The lanky athlete has shown improvement in every competitive contest he took part this year, leaping 2.27m to open his season in Xiamen Diamond League before raising the bar to 2.29m in Shanghai. In his last event to date, he cleared 2.31m to win the What Gravity Challenge at home last month.

“The target for me is always the Olympics. It's my fourth Olympics and it's very important to me and I want to be sure that I am ready to fight and jump high. So everything I'm doing now is according to the plan to be ready for the Olympics,” Barshim had said after the Xiamen meet in April.

Apart from Barshim, a trio of Qatar athletes – Abderrahman Samba, Bassem Hemeida and Ismail Doudai Abakar – are also set to grab the spotlight in the men's 400m hurdles. The three sprinters have already made history by becoming the first Asian trio from a single nation to qualify for the event at Olympics.

Ismail Doudai Abakar

Samba and Hemeida had qualified for Paris following a historic 1-2 for Qatar at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China last October. Abakar had sealed his place in the elite list in March, clocking 48.68 secs to win the title at Continental Tour Challenger 2024 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. The mark to qualify for this year's Olympics is 48.70.

It would be a huge challenge for the trio as they would be up against the likes of Olympic and three-time world champion Karsten Warholm, Rai Benjamin and Alison Dos Santos with Samba, a World Championships Doha 2019 bronze medalist, leading the Al Annabi charge in the battle.

In a positive development, the 28-year-old Samba returned to action from an injury layoff earlier this month competing in the Diamond League meet in Stockholm where he clocked 49.69 secs.

Abubaker Haydar Abdalla

Meanwhile, middle-distance runner Abubaker Haydar Abdalla – a two-time Asian champion – will also compete in Paris after he booked his spot in the men's 800m event clocking 1.44.60 secs at the Athletics Championships in Spain in April.

Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) President Mohammed Issa Al Fadala hoped Qatar's athletes to shine at Olympics, praising the achievement of the 400m hurdlers.

“To be on the podium it's very hard, especially in the Olympic Games or the World Championships. The competition is very tough. Our first goal is that our athletes stay completely fit and healthy. They enjoy their game and after that, we see the results. But, yes, I hope we will be on the podiums,” he had told reporters recently.

“We hope to see two more athletes joining these five athletes in our ranks for Olympics. I am happy with the achievement of our hurdlers as it is the first time in history that three Asian athletes are representing one country in the men's 400m hurdles at Olympics,” Al Fadala added.


The Peninsula

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