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Samba sails through, Barrow bows out

Qatar had mixed luck on the opening day of the IAAF World Championships, but fans have plenty to look forward to.
Qatar's Abderrahman Samba In Action In The Qualifying Round 1
Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba in action in the qualifying round of the 400M hurdles at the World Championships on Friday.

Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba gave the home crowd a taste of things to come when he stormed into the semifinal of the 400M hurdles at the 2019 IAAF World Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium on Friday.

The 24-year-old burst out of the starting blocks and dominated his heat, to finish in 49.08sec. It was the best qualifying time across five heats.

After the race, Samba hurried past the journalists without making any comment, perhaps wishing to let his performance do the talking. But his confident gait and intense focus suggested he was a man on a mission.

It should worry his opponents, especially Norwegian defending champion Karsten Warholm (49.27) and American Rai Benjamin, who only had the 10th best time (49.62) across the qualifiers.

The trio, who hold three of the four fastest times in the 400M hurdles, is widely expected to light up the track in Doha. Samba, who has not lost a major final in his pet event since late 2017, should be hoping to serve up some great news for the local fans.

Earlier, Qatar’s young sprinter Owaab Barrow had made it to the first round of the 100M qualifying before bowing out due to cramps. In the preliminary round, he timed a personal best of 10.64 seconds to finish third in his heat. Winners of the four heats and the next five fastest progressed and as such, he made it through as the fourth quickest.

But then in the fifth heat of the first round, he pulled up mid-race. “It was a leg cramp that did me in, but I don’t think it’s severe. It was simply lousy timing. I’m still looking forward to running in the 4x100M relay,” Barrow told Inside Qatar after the race.

The 18-year-old, who was the third-youngest runner in the heats, said he didn’t feel any pressure.

“I ran the races without any pressure. I knew I was competing against much older athletes, so this was only meant as preparation for next year’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. I’m quite happy with my new time. It’ll motivate me to go even faster,” he said.