BAHRAIN’S ‘Golden Girl’ Salwa Eid Naser cruised to an impressive victory in the women’s 400 metres last night at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Rome.
The meeting was a part of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League.
Salwa had twice the reason to celebrate as she claimed her victory by clocking her new season’s best time.
Also excelling in Rome yesterday was Bahraini Birhanu Balew, who posted a new personal best en route to finishing fourth overall in the men’s 5,000m.
Both Salwa and Balew were the only two of Bahrain’s elite international athletes competing at the Golden Gala.
In the women’s 400m, Salwa was not to be denied as she lived up to her tag as pre-race favourite. She had a strong start and was clearly en route to another impressive win coming into the final straight. She held off the field by at least six metres to win in a season’s best time of 50.26 seconds. She marginally beat her previous season’s best of 50.65s.
The result was Salwa’s second win in as many races so far on this year’s Diamond League circuit, having also triumphed in Shanghai last month.
Shericka Jackson of Jamaica followed in 51.05s, while her countrywoman Stephenie Ann McPherson was third in 51.39s.
Meanwhile, Balew had a strong performance in a quick men’s 5,000m race. Balew was a part of the lead group for much of the run, until the final two laps when race winner Telahun Bekele and runner-up Selemon Barega broke away from the pack to the finish.
Bekele was able to put in an outstanding ending sprint and stormed to a victory in 12 minutes 52.98 seconds, which was the fastest time in the world so far this year.
Barega finished in 12:53.04, while Hagos Gebrhiwet made it an all-Ethiopian top three in 12:54.92.
Balew finished fourth in 12:56.26, his new fastest time and improving on his previous best mark of 13:01.09 which he set last year.