The UAE narrowly missed out on adding to their medal tally at the Asian Games yesterday as Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum and the men’s bowling team saw their hopes of bronze ended by small margins.
Sheikha Latifa was beaten by 1.39 seconds with Taizo Sugitani of Japan, clocking 30.95 seconds in the equestrian individual jumping competition to win bronze.
And only four pins was the difference for the men’s bowling team, who were edged out by Hong Kong as they finished joint-fourth with China.
The horse jumping team, also featuring Abdullah Mohammed Al Marri and Mohammed Al Owais made a solid start. However as the competition progressed, only Sheikha Latifa, on her 11-year mare Peanuts De Beaufour, remained in contention for a medal.
Carrying a four-point penalty from her qualifying period on the first day, Sheikha Latifa came agonisingly close with a time of 32.34 but was edged out of the top three by Sugitani.
The event was won by Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Sharbatli, ahead of runner-up Satoshi Hirao.
In bowling, entering the day still in with a chance of sealing a medal, the five-man team, Mahmood Al Attar, Shaker Ali, Hussain Al Suwaidi, Naif Oqab and Hareb Al Mansoori fought hard until the end, but despite their efforts, they could only accumulate 5,896 pins.
South Korea comfortably took gold with a total of 6,228 pins, 242 pins ahead of runners-up Malaysia while Hong Kong’s effort of 5,900 was enough to win bronze.
Meanwhile, the skeet shooting team also ended the shooting competition on a disappointing note as they failed to consolidate their start during the qualifying round.
The three-man team, Saif Al Mansoori, Ahmed Mohammed and Saeed Al Dhraif finished in sixth position with a total of 341 points.
China picked up gold with a new Asian record of 366, while Kuwait (353) placed second ahead of South Korea (351).
Al Mansoori was best among the three UAE shooters with a total of 116 while Mohammed and Al Dhraif followed with totals of 115 and 110 at the end of five qualifying rounds.
And on the field, Saber Bayaha’s 50.05m attempt wasn’t enough to secure qualification to the men’s discus final, which was won by Iran’s Ehsan Hadid (65.11m).
India’s Vikas Gowda (62.58m) and Qatar’s Ahmed Mohammed Dheeb (61.25m) clinched silver and bronze medals respectively on the fourth day of the athletics competition.
Today, in sailing, both the men and women’s Optimist categories conclude, as well as the laser standard.
Tomorrow, 10,000m gold medalist Alia Saeed Mohammed will hope to add to the UAE’s tally when she competes in the women’s 5,000m alongside Betlhem Desalegn.
Distance runner Alia Saeed made history for the UAE by claiming the country’s first-ever athletics gold at the Asian Games, clocking a personal best time to win the 10,000m race in Incheon.
The 23-year-old shaved almost 50 seconds off her own national record to cross the finish line in 31:51.86.
The Ethiopian-born Saeed led a breakaway trio with five laps to go at Incheon’s Asiad Main Stadium, comfortably holding off China’s Ding Changqin and Ayumi Hagiwara of Japan to claim the UAE’s first gold of the Games.
It was a fast-paced race with all three medallists running sub-32 minutes and the top-two both running PBs.
Saeed’s previous best achievement on the continental stage came at the Asian Athletics Championships last year in Pune, where she took silver in 32:39.39 – her previous fastest time.
"I’m so happy to be an Asian champion for the first time. It was a hard race, everyone is strong so I really thank God for this win," an elated Saeed said after the race.
Ahmad Al Kamali, the president of the UAE Athletics Federation, has been a driving force of support for Saeed and Betlhem Belayneh – another Ethiopian import – and had previously vowed to deliver three medals for the Emirates in track and field at the Games.
"This is a great achievement. We are very happy here in the federation and the National Olympic Committee," Al Kamali told Sport360.
"We are really happy that on the first day of athletics here in Incheon, we got a medal, and it’s not just any medal, but a gold one.
"And it won’t be the last one insha’Allah.
"I promised three medals and now we got the first one."
Saeed will now go for the double in Thursday’s 5,000m where she will face off with her fellow Emirati and good friend, Belayneh, a gold medallist in the event at the Asian Championships in Pune last year.
Belayneh begins her campaign today in the 1,500, which she also had won in Pune. The 22-year-old will contest the heats today, hoping to go through to the final tomorrow.
Asked how Saeed’s achievement can affect Belayneh, Al Kamali said: "It won’t put pressure on her. On the contrary, I think it will be a great motivation for her to try and do the same."
In the men’s 400m yesterday, UAE’s Saoud Abdelkarim advanced to the semi-finals with a season best 47.20 but the 26-year-old was unable to make it to the final.
Saeed’s medal is the UAE’s second of the Games. Sheikh Juma bin Dalmook Al Maktoum had won bronze in double trap last Thursday.
Elsewhere in the track, Asian Games athletics judges stripped Bahrain’s Kenya-born runner Ruth Jebet of her steeplechase victory as she was about to collect the gold medal after a crushing win.
The 17-year-old junior world champion was led away in tears as Bahraini team leaders wrangled with race officials who ruled that Jebet had stumbled and put a foot inside the track.
She had annihilated the field at Incheon’s Asiad Main Stadium, crossing the line in nine minutes, 31.36 seconds, more than 24 seconds inside the Games record.
But as Jebet, who switched nationality to Bahrain last year, was about to step onto the podium, the stadium announcer declared that the result had been cancelled, drawing gasps from the crowd.
The UAE’s hunt for a first medal at the Asian Games in Incheon continues after cyclist Yousif Mirza barely missed out on the podium in the omnium race yesterday, as Kuwait won the first Arab gold in squash.
The 25-year-old Emirati had entered the second day of the omnium ranked fifth after three events, having won the opening 15km scratch race.
But his 10th place in both the 1km time trial and the flying lap 330m time trial dented his chances. Mirza finished strong with a third place in the 40km points race but fell just four points short of a medal, settling for fourth overall.
The cycling competition will next move from the track to the road, where Mirza is more experienced and has a better chance of making the podium.
Meanwhile in the pool, UAE’s Mohamed Jasim Al Muhairi was seventh in his 50m freestyle heat and ranked 23rd overall out of 42 swimmers, as he clocked 24.54 seconds.
Dubai resident and Hamilton Aquatics swimmer, Mohammed Madouh of Kuwait, swam a respectable 23.51 to come fourth in his heat, and rank 13th overall. He missed out on a spot in the final by 0.23 seconds.
There was still reason to celebrate for the Gulf kingdom though as Abdullah Al Mezayen claimed Kuwait’s first gold medal of the Games in squash with a remarkable 10-12, 2-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-9 win over India’s world No16 Saurav Ghosal.