Bahrain's Salem Eid Yaqoob set a new National Record last night as he powered into the semi-finals of the men’s 200 metres at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
Bahrain had twice the reason to celebrate as Benson Seurei also booked his ticket into the semi-final round of the men’s 1,500m.
Competing in the third of 10 heats in the 200m, Yaqoob did well to claim a fine victory in 20.19 seconds and gain automatic qualification for the next stage. He managed to complete the sprint ahead of Ramil Guliyev of Turkey and Aaron Brown of Canada, both of whom finished in 20.23s.
Yaqoob was the only Bahraini competing in the 200m.
Leading all runners into the next stage was Andre de Grasse of Canada, who had a time of 20.09s. Defending Olympic and World champion Usain Bolt cruised as one of the qualifiers in 20.28s.
The semi-finals are scheduled for early tomorrow morning at 4am, Bahrain time. Yaqoob is slated for the second of three heats, with only the top two in each heat plus two fastest losers moving on to the medal round.
In the men’s 1,500m, Seurei was one of six fastest losers to make it through to the semi-finals.
Competing in the third and final first round heat, Seurei was determined to march on and he set a quick pace up front. However, heading around the final bend, the Bahraini began to lose ground and eventually found himself trailing in the middle of the pack as he crossed the finish line in seventh place. Fortunately for Seurei, his quick pace early was enough to make the heat the quickest of the three.
He finished his run in three minutes 38.82 seconds, which was good enough to be the leading fastest loser. Jakub Holusa of the Czech Republic won their heat in 3:38.31.
The 1,500m semi-final is scheduled for Friday morning at 2.45am, Bahrain time.
Seurei was the lone Bahraini competing in the 1,500m.
On the distaff, Mimi Belete and Dalila Abdulqadir failed to qualify for the women’s 5,000m final.
Running in the second of two heats, Mimi finished 10th amongst 17 runners in a time of 15:29.72. She missed out on an automatic qualifying berth by five places, and she also wasn’t one of five fastest losers.
Dalila, on the other hand, did not start her race. According to team officials, she was suffering from an injury and could not compete.
Meanwhile, a trio of Bahrainis will be competing in the men’s 5,000m heats today as part of the morning session of day six in athletics at the Rio Olympic Games.
Albert Rop will be running in the first of two heats at 4.05pm, Bahrain time. He heads into his race with a personal best of 12:51.96 and a season’s best of 13:04.87.
In heat two at 4.26pm, Bahrain time, Bahrainis Birhanu Balew and Zouhair Aouad will both be in action. Balew will be looking to improve on his personal and season’s bests of 13:14.14; as will Aouad who has top marks of 13:14.16.
Only the first five in each heat, plus the five fastest losers, move on the final.
Also yesterday, Bahrain’s delegation hosted a private dinner in celebration of their two medals won this past week. Ruth Jebet clinched a gold medal in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase and Eunice Kirwa won a silver in the women’s marathon.
In attendance at the dinner were Bahrain Olympic Committee secretary general Abdulrahman Askar, Chef de Mission Yousef Abdulqader, Jebet, Kirwa, delegation officials and other athletes.
n His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, has expressed thanks and appreciation to Supreme Council for Youth and Sport First Deputy Chairman and Bahrain Athletics Association President Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, in reply to his congratulations on the kingdom winning a gold and a silver medal at Rio 2016.
HRH the Crown Prince thanked Bahraini athletes Ruth Jebet, for winning the gold medal in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Eunice Kirwa, for clinching the women’s marathon silver medal, and Ali Khamis, for qualifying for the final of the men’s 400m.
Meanwhile, Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of HM the King and Supreme Council for Women (SCW) President, received a cable of congratulations from Second Deputy Chairman of the Shura Council, Jameela Ali Salman, on the Olympic achievement by Jebet.