UAE’s Mohamed Al Hammadi claimed his second medal of the World Para Athletics Championships on Monday night, winning silver in the men’s 400m T34 final.
The 32-year-old finished in 50.94 seconds behind winner and long-term rival Walid Ktila, who crossed home first in 50.56 secs.
Finland’s Henry Manni claimed bronze after edging USA’s Austin Pruitt in 52.24 secs.
For Al Hammadi, it was the second time he was on the podium after winning bronze medal in the 100m T34 class on Saturday night.
His feats came days after the tragic death of former UAE team-mate Abdullah Hayayei, who died on Tuesday in London after a training cage collapsed on him during a training session.
“The tragedy affected us, it affected the whole team, and we had to prove ourselves and perform our best to raise the flag,” said the Rio Paralympic champion in the 800m T34 class.
“I have worked as hard as I could to do my best, whether I am first, second or third I am raising the flag for UAE.”
Al Hammadi will again be back in action at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow in the 800m T34 as well as the 200m T34 on Friday.
And the Emirati is eager to add to his tally even though he’s wary of the efforts he has to put in.
“Doing four events is difficult but I want to race as much as possible to show my best,” he added.
For Ktilia, the Tunisian was pleased with his latest victory and lauded Al Hammadi for his efforts.
“It was very difficult but thanks God for this victory,” said the 31-year-old.
“I am very happy for my friend Mohamed who finished second because we are very close and we know each other since long time ago when we started competing. Sometimes we even train together in Tunis or in Dubai.”
He added: “To find the power to compete today you have to train hard and build up on it. My programme is quite full but my favourite even, the 800m is still ahead so I am hoping for a good result.”
Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt fired to victory in the 100m in Ostrava on Wednesday in a modest 10.06 seconds, in what was his first appearance in Europe in his farewell season.
“I love this crowd’s high energy. That’s why I come back here. I love you,” said Bolt, in his ninth appearance in the northeastern Czech city.
“I’m not happy with the time, but I’m getting into it.”
Bolt, winner of eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals, will bring down the curtain on his glittering career at August’s world championships in London.
He again proved to have not lost any of his showman’s charisma as he played to the sell-out 15,000-capacity crowd at the Mestsky Stadium when introduced in hot, humid weather.
The field was a kind one for Bolt, only Jak Ali Harvey, previously of Jamaica but now representing Turkey, having gone below 10sec.
Starting in lane five, Bolt was somewhat tardy in getting up and out of the blocks, the 100 and 200m world record holder easily matched by Cuban Yunier Perez outside him over the opening half of the race.
As the crowd roared, so Bolt responded as he has so many times before, moving into his famed “drive phase”, head coming slowly up as part of the process that unleashes the full power from his long legs.
For a flash moment, Perez looked like he might have had the better of the towering Jamaican, but it was not to be as Bolt powered home with a knowing look across to the Cuban from 20 metres out.
Bolt ripped through the finish line, eyes glued on the stadium’s big screen at the end of the 100m track.
Perez came in second in a personal best of 10.09sec, with Bolt’s winning time far off his world record of 9.58sec, set back at the Berlin world championships in 2009.
The Jamaican has consistently been a beacon for clean athletes amid doping and corruption scandals that mired Sebastian Coe’s first couple of years in office as IAAF president.
His absence from the sport will leave a void that will be tough to fill, as shown by the hero’s send-off he was afforded by the Ostrava crowd after the Jamaican anthem was played.
Provided by AFP
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt insists this “emotional” season will indeed be his last, bringing the curtain down on a glittering career which galvanised track and field at a time of doping and corruption scandals.
Bolt has won eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals in his career, but importantly was the outgoing, larger-than-life personality on whom athletics administrators could rely for a positive slant, an athlete widely recognised globally.
Asked whether he might carry on after this season, Bolt said: “No, I don’t think so!
“It’s just been a great career, I’ve really enjoyed the ups and downs, all the experience I’ve gathered, all I’ve been through, the happiness and the sadness.
“It’s been a wonderful career and I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do and it’s coming to an end and I’m fine with it.”
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s IAAF World Challenge meet in the northeastern Czech city of Ostrava, Bolt admitted that the season was an emotional one.
It started with a home swansong in Kingston before taking Ostrava, the Diamond League meet in Monaco in July and the World Athletics Championships in London.
“It’s an emotional season. I’m looking forward to going out there and putting on a show for the fans for the last time because they look forward to it,” said Bolt.
“Right now personally, I’m just focused on getting through the season. I just like entertaining the crowd. I definitely want to try and enjoy ever minute of it – it won’t be the same sat in the stadium.
“The fact that I know it’s that last time it will be emotional, just seeing it and feeling, being around people and athletes, sitting in the meal room around everybody, joking and laughing about old times, it’ll be emotional.”
Bolt, 30, confirmed that he would not be competing in the 200m in London, but left the door open to a further finale being added to his programme.
“For sure I won’t be running the 200m” at the worlds, he said. “People keep asking, but no.”
Turning to any possible events after London, he said: “I’ve discussed with my coach (Glen Mills) what he thinks I should do, whether I end my season after the world championships, we haven’t fully made up our mind on what we’re doing yet.
“We’ll see what happens, I’m not worrying about that until the world championships or at least getting close to it.”
One of his potential rivals in London will be former doping cheat Justin Gatlin, who has maintained his late bloom, last week winning the US national championships at the age of 35.
“I was shocked he actually won, just because how quick young kids were running,” said Bolt, 30.
“As older athletes in the sport, we have a lot of experience and know how to go through the rounds.
“But I was kind of shocked he came out victorious. It shows that Justin Gatlin is a competitor and he shows year after year that he is not to be taken lightly. I’m looking forward to competition, always.”
Despite the void Bolt will leave, the Jamaican was confident for the doping-mired sport, with Sebastian Coe leading the purge as head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“The sport has been going through a lot in the past couple of years, but I think you have to go through your worst time to your best. Seb Coe’s doing a good job, they’re really trying to make track and field as transparent as possible, they’re using the independent doping system, so it will run a lot more smoothly,” Bolt said.
“The competition’s getting better, there are youngsters coming through, so the only problem we really have is doping.
“If we can control that problem, then track and field will be in the right neck of the woods and it will be going forward. When people can really start trusting track and field consistently then it will get better and we will be able to stand up with other sports. Over time it will get better.”