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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Samba powers into final of 400M hurdles

Qatari on course to win a maiden World Championship medal; Abdalla moves into 800M semis.
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Abderrahman Samba clears a hurdle during the race at the Khalifa International Stadium. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba entered the Khalifa International Stadium for the 400M hurdles semifinals with his trademark goggles in place. A picture of intense concentration, he smiled only when the crowd roared at his introduction. Acknowledging the fans, he was quickly back to focusing on the task at hand.

Exactly 48.72 seconds later, the 24-year-old was done for the day, having taken another firm step towards winning his country’s first medal at the 17thWorld Championships in Athletics.

Samba, running within himself, booked his place in the final, finishing second behind American Rai Benjamin (48.52). With Norway’s Christian Warholm, the defending champion,also coming through in 48.28 sec, Monday’s final is expected to be a blockbuster.

Samba’s time on Saturday’s was a step up from his performance of 49.08 in the first round, suggesting the hurdler, who recently returned from a hamstring injury, is steadily getting back to his groove.

“So far, I’m enjoying these championships and the atmosphere. It’s great to run here in front of my home crowd. I’m feeling great support on my back, so no pressure,” he said after the race.

It was also a good day for Qatar in the men’s 800M, with one athlete qualifying for the semifinal and another narrowly missing out. Abubaker Haydar Abdalla (1:46.11) led the third heat until the final 100M before being pushed to second place by Canada’s Brandon McBride (1:45.96).

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Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba reacts after completing the 400M hurdles semifinal.IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

But Abdalla, the reigning Asian indoor and outdoor champion, sounded pleased with his progress to the semis.

“My only plan was to get to the semifinal and thank God, I did that. Tomorrow, I’ll hopefully run well again and enter the final. If I run around 1min 44sec, that should be enough to put me into the final,” he told Inside Qatar.

Jamal Hairane, Qatar’s other 800M runner, went out in the first round. The 26-year-old, who had made the cut for Doha following the IAAF’s extension of the qualification deadline by a day, finished fifth in the second heat in 1:46.40.

It placed him as the seventh fastest runner outside the top-three in each group, with only the top six going through. He took the setback in his stride.

“My first task was to qualify for the Worlds at home, and I did that. My race was tactical and strategic. I was disappointed with my time, but that’s sport. You’ve good days and bad days,” he said.