Visit IAAF special preview page
Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
Visit IAAF special preview page
Visit IAAF special preview page

Battling Samba bags bronze for Qatar

Hurdler stages strong fightback to seize host nation's first medal at the World Championships. 
Qatar's Abderrahman Samba En Route To The Bronze Medal In The 400m Hurdles On Monday
Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba en route to the bronze medal in the 400M hurdles on Monday. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The thousands of fans who had filed into the Khalifa International Stadium had their fill as Abderrahman Samba opened the host nation’s account with a bronze in the 400M hurdles at the 17th IAAF World Championships on Monday.

The hurdler, who last competed in a race back in May, had been fighting a hamstring injury but gave it his all to clock 48.03 seconds. That was just enough to place him behind Karsten Warholm of Norway (47.42) and Rai Benjamin of the United States (47.66).

Norway's Karsten Warholm Is Delighted With His Gold Medal In The 400m Hurdles
Norway’s Karsten Warholm is delighted with his gold medal in the 400M hurdles. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

It was a terrific effort in the final few metres that helped him to the podium and Samba said he was thrilled to win the medal, especially as he had considered not racing just two days ago.

“I’m not just happy, I’m over the moon,” he said. “There’re no words to say how I feel now. Two days ago, I wasn’t sure whether to compete or not. So to be on the podium is amazing. It was a long season for me with lots of injuries. So it wasn’t my goal to get a medal,” he added.


Saif Saaeed Shaheen 3,000M steeplechase
Saif Saaeed Shaheen 3,000M steeplechase
Mutaz Essa Barshim High jump
Mubarak Hassan Shami Marathon
Mutaz Essa BarshimHigh jump
James Kwalia Kurui 5,000M
Abdalelah Haroun 400M
Abderrahman Samba 400M hurdles

It was only Qatar’s eighth-ever medal at the IAAF World Championships and the success tasted sweeter as it arrived from the most-awaited contest in this edition. Warholm was the favourite and he defended his crown to join an elite band of men to do so — American Edwin Moses (1983 and ’87), Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez (’01 and ’03) and American Kerron Clement (’07 and ’09).

The Norwegian also kept up his winning streak, not having lost a race this season including at five Diamond League meetings.

“This was a very hard race and I had pain in my chest. I thought I was going to die, but I’m a world champion now,” he said.

Warholm didn’t go all out from the start as is his wont, preserving himself for a final charge. Benjamin, though not hurdling smoothly, was in front but as the athletes came past the bend, the Norwegian had wrested firm control. He maintained that advantage to the finish while Benjamin, despite his struggles, held on for the silver. Samba seemed out of the race for a medal but his determined charge produced a delightful outcome for himself and for the fans who cheered him lustily.

Halimah Nakaayi Of Uganda Celebrates After Winning The Women's 800m Gold
Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda celebrates after winning the women’s 800M gold. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

“It was amazing the way they cheered me when my name was announced first. ‘Just go for it,’ I told myself at that moment. I am grateful for this medal.” said Samba.

Warholm was not the only athlete creating history on Monday. Authorised Neutral Athlete Mariya Lasitskene became the first high jumper to win three back-to-back titles and she made it look effortless.

She cleared all her heights — 1.84, 1.89, 1.93, 1.96, 1.98, 2.00, 2.02 and 2.04 — in her first attempt and then fouled out thrice at 2.08M.

Ukraine’s reigning Youth Olympic champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who had sailed over 2.04M on her final try, finished with a silver, having set an U-20 world record. USA’s ’16 indoor world champion Vashti Cunningham finished third (2.00).

Muktar Edris led an Ethiopian one-two in the men’s 5,000M, defending his title in a tactical race. Edris and his compatriots Selemon Barega and Haile Bekele ran as a team in a contest that featured the three Ingebrigtsen brothers – Jakob, Henrik and Filip – from Norway.

They exchanged leads at various points with Mohammed Ahmed of Canada also coming into the picture, confounding the Norwegians with their changes in pace.

As Filip pulled out and Henrik fell behind, Jakob decided to hit the front with 300M to go.

But he was soon rebuffed by Barega before Edris took over in the final straight, brilliantly sprinting to the finish in 12:58.85, as hundreds of cheering Ethiopian fans raised the roof.

Beatrice Chepkoech Of Kenya Celebrates After Winning The 3000m Steeplechase
Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya celebrates after winning the 3000M steeplechase. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Barega picked up the silver in 12:59.70 while Ahmed held on to win the bronze in 13:01.11, leaving the Norwegians without a medal.

“I struggled so much during the last year with injuries, so I am grateful to win today,” said Idris, after celebrating Mo Farah style. “It was so nice to see all the people cheering for us. With fans like that, you win.”

Two years ago in London, Beatrice Chepkoech made a blunder in the first lap that left her without a medal in the 3,000M steeplechase. She initially forgot to tackle the first water jump and had to take a U-turn, costing her valuable time. This time, she made sure there were no mistakes.

In an audacious display of front-running, the Kenyan took an early lead, kept widening it and never relaxed on her way to the gold in a championship record of 8:57.84. Defending champion Emma Coburn of the United States timed a career-best 9:02.35 for the silver after a late surge while Gesa Krause of Germany picked up the bronze in 9:03.30.

“I decided to go in front because I knew there was going to be a lot of pushing,” said Chepkoech, explaining her tactics. “I knew that if I put in a fast first kilometre, they would not follow me anymore.”

Sweden’s Daniel Stahl was not able to cross the 70M for a fourth time this year but his third attempt of 67.59M was enough to earn him the discus gold.

In London two years ago, he had lost gold by a mere two centimetres, but he left nothing to chance this time and comfortably pushed Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres to second place (66.94).

He then celebrated wildly, running to the centre of the field and pumping his fists in the air.

“It just felt awesome to win the title. I didn’t know what to do and did what came naturally to me,” he told Inside Qatar.

The women’s 800M final proved to be an exciting affair, with Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi winning with a new national record of 1:58.04.

USA’s Ajee Wilson (1:58.84) had set the early pace, but the American, who had won six of the eight races she started this year, was passed by Nakaai at the final bend. Biding her time, the diminutive runner made use of a narrow gap to get ahead and never looked back.

Ethiopia's Muktar Edris (left) Powers To Victory In The Men's 5000m
Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris (left) powers to victory in the men’s 5000M. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

American Raevyn Rogers (1:58.18) came up with a late charge and sealed second place, ahead of Wilson.

Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (22.32) was the fastest qualifier in the women’s 200M heats. And with the Netherlands’ defending champion Dafne Schippers out of contention with an injury, she will most likely be the woman to beat in Doha.

American 200M title favourite Noah Lyles made his intentions crystal clear, running a blistering 19.86 sec to top the men’s semifinal round. Ecuador’s Pan American champion Alex Quinonez (19.95) proved to be the only other athlete to dip below the 20 sec mark.

USA’s defending world champion Phyllis Francis easily progressed to the women’s 400M semifinal with a 50.77sec win in the first heat. Bahamian Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo (51.30) and Bahrain’s recently crowned Diamond League champion Salwa Eid Naser (50.74) also progressed.

Qatari runner Kenza Sosse (1:06.76) was the slowest finisher and received a standing ovation from the stadium as she crossed the line last.