Gulf states strike athletics gold, North stun South

Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:34am EDT
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By Peter Rutherford

INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - Bahrain and Qatar struck more Asian Games athletics gold on Monday as their policy of cherry-picking top African talent continued to pay off, while North Korea stunned the South with a late winner in their women's soccer semi-final.

Mohamad Al-Garni and Maryam Yusuf Jamal added their names to the growing list of African-born runners who have won gold for oil-rich Gulf states Qatar and Bahrain.

Their wins in the men's and women's 1,500 meters came a day after Nigerian-born Femi Ogunode, running for Qatar, became the first sprinter to run under 10 seconds at the Asian Games.

Al-Garni, who was born in Morocco, said his victory summed up everything an athlete needed to prosper.

"If you have a dream, a good coach, and good staff, you can achieve what you want,” he said.

Rashid Ramzi, another Moroccan-born athlete, finished second to Al-Garni. Ramzi won the 2008 Olympic title for Bahrain but was disqualified for a failed doping test.

Abubaker Ali Kamal won the men's 3,000m steeplechase for Qatar on Monday. Like Ogunode and Ramzi, he has also returned to competition after serving a drugs ban.

Wei Jizhong, an honorary life vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), warned of the dangers of buying overnight success rather than growing it at home.   Continued...

Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Isa Jamal reacts as she crosses the finish line to win the women's 1500m final at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium during the 17th Asian Games September 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed