Long distance runner Alia Saeed could be the UAE’s biggest hope to capture a medal at the upcoming World Athletics Championships according to Ahmed Al Kamali, the UAE Athletics Federation president.
Saeed became just the fourth woman in history to win gold in the 10,000m in both the Asian Games and the Asian Athletics Championships after she followed up her Asian win in Incheon last fall with victory in Wuhan earlier this month.
The Ethiopian-born Emirati has been in fine form over the past 12 months. Her timing of 31:52.29 which she clocked at the Asian Athletics Championships in Wuhan was a new meet record and was just shy of her personal best of 31:51.86 which she ran at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
The 24-year-old also won a silver medal in the 5,000m in Wuhan, finishing behind her Emirati team-mate Betlhem Belayneh, who had triumphed in the 1,500m earlier in the meet, and the pair combined for a total of four medals to place the Emirates in sixth place in the medals table.
Saeed is currently in Barcelona where she is preparing for the World Athletics Championships, scheduled for August 22-30, 2015 in Beijing and Al Kamali is hoping she can enjoy a historic podium showing at the famous Bird’s Nest national stadium.
“Three Asian gold medals and one silver, this is fantastic for our sport. We hope in the future these athletes they can climb to the highest level on the podium,” Al Kamali told Sport360.
“We have to be very honest with ourselves though. Sometimes we can’t expect a medal. Maybe, if we’re lucky, Alia can go for the 10,000m. But still we have to be realistic. We hope that these two girls can make the final at least at the World Championships or the Olympics.”
Beijing will be Saeed’s second appearance at Worlds, having competed in the 5,000m race at the 2011 edition in Daegu, placing a disappointing 20th.
“My results have been improving so I’m expecting more from myself this time,” she says.
Her friend and team-mate Belayneh is with her in Barcelona, where they are having a training camp before they take part in several Diamond League meets in preparation for Beijing.
The World Championships will serve as a pivotal stepping stone for both Saeed and Belayneh towards next year’s Rio 2016 Olympics.
“We are looking for good results in Beijing. If you do well, then you’ll have more motivation for the Olympics. But if you don’t, that doesn’t discourage you or get you down. You just get more hungry for doing better in Rio,” assured Belayneh.
“In the Diamond League, I’ll compete in the 800m, 3,000m or 5,000m because when you run fast, you’ll get more confident. So hopefully I’ll do five to six meets before Beijing.”