The Emirati crossed the finish line behind Ethiopian winner Belaynesh Oljira, but clocked a time of 31:10.25 in the long-distance event at Dubai Police Officers Club, surpassing her previous national record of 31:51.86, which she set in Incheon in 2014.
Saeed’s compatriot, 1,500m and 5,000m specialist Betlhem Belayneh, helped the 24-year-old raise the bar by setting the pace with a brisk run before dropping out less than midway through the race.
Despite reaching new heights and having already qualified in the 10,000m for the Rio Olympics this summer, Saeed is striving for further improvement.
“My fastest time before was 31:52, so to get 31:10 is a big difference,” Saeed said. “I will do more than this, Inshallah.”
Saeed’s coach, Jama Aden, was encouraged by his pupil’s performance and believes competition against athletes of Oljira’s ilk will only push Saeed to do better.
“She needs this kind of competition. She went against Belaynesh Oljira, who’s been in the World Championships and won today, but it was very close. I think this is what Alia needs.”
Ahmad Al Kamali, president of the UAE Athletics Federation, said of Saeed: “This is showing that our girl is doing very well. It’s a new national record and was bettered by 40-odd seconds.
“We are hoping in three, four months, she’ll be in a few strong races, especially 5,000m and 3,000m in the Diamond League, to be ready for the Olympics.”
Oljira, meanwhile, didn’t disappoint the hoards of Ethiopian fans in attendance and gave their cheers meaning with a run of 31:04.59.
Though she earned the gold medal, the 25-year-old, who won bronze in the 10,000m in the Moscow World Championships in 2013, has even higher hopes. “My target is not 31 minutes, it’s 30:30 or 30:25. It’s possible when I try in another competition,” Oljira said.
On the club side, Al Ahli were crowned champions of the two-day event and hoisted the President’s Cup with a total of 6,524 points.
After trailing Al Nasr by 183 points heading into the second day, Ahli pushed ahead with wins in events such as the 400m hurdles and 5,000m to claim the silverware.
Al Kamali praised the event, saying: “We’ll repeat this event every year because people like it and it will give more people a chance to attend. The crowd was good and we hope in the future, it will bring more kids and more athletes.”
At a packed IPIC Arena at Zayed Sports City, Brazilian Pena put his disappointment of losing his 94kg final behind him, to win his first gold in the Black Belt title in Abu Dhabi defeating compatriot and UAE-based Jose Junior.
Pena, who picked up a winning cheque of $30,000, said: “I’m very happy to win the Absolute class it makes up for the disappointment of losing in the weight class. Against Jose it was very tough fight but it was good to overpower him for title.”
For 30-year-old Junior, he did clinch his first ever medal in this class but was left frustrated that he could not go one step further.
“I was waiting until he made a mistake, but he capitalised on getting a two point lead,” he said.
“I tried to get those points back but it didn’t happen. I did my best and obviously I am disappointed. As a fighter, you always want to win.”
It was a day that Araujo will not want to forget anytime soon. The Brazilian had earlier claimed the +70kg women’s crown and made it a double by beating Beatriz Mesquita on points in the Brown/Black Open event.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m speechless,” said Araujo. “The match was tough but I have been following her for some time now and I knew she was winning a lot of medals.” Their performances capped a memorable day for Brazil with 13 gold, 13 silver and eight bronze medals.
There was something to cheer for the hosts as Yahya Mansour claimed the Brown Masters Belt +94kg title. The Emirati, backed by strong support, showed no signs of nerves and dominated his encounter against Christopher Hernandez to win on advantage points.
“I’m very happy to win gold especially in front of my home fans,” beamed Mansour, 38. “It’s an honour to represent my country on the world stage. It was my toughest tournament because brown belt is never easy. But I stuck to my strengths and did well.”
The long wait for a world gold for Ricardo Evangelista ended with a +94kg Black Belt win. Against compatriot Victor Silva, Evangelista was struggling but he made his move in the last minute to win 6-0.
It was a result that meant a lot to the 30-year-old. “We are good friends and I know him for a while. The fight was tough as there was some strong fights in the Open and Weight categories – eight fights in total,” he said.
“This is the first gold in this pro event and my previous best was three silvers. It took me five years to get my hands on the gold so I’m really happy.”
Also, despite losing her Open crown, American Mackenzie Dern retained her 55kg gold by defeating Brazilian Marina Ribeiro.
“For me, it was so good to come back and be able to win my division,” said the 23-year-old. “I fought good and I am happy to keep hold of my title.”
Led by influential captain Oisin McGinty, Abu Dhabi showed more sharpness and overall desire to overcome Dubai Celts 1-11 to 1-4 in front of a large attendance in the men’s final.
Neil McRory (Abu Dhabi) and Tom King (Dubai) swapped early goals as Abu Dhabi led 1-4 to 1-2 at half-time.
The winners front five were magnificent throughout with Danny Curran (3), Colm Coyle (3) and Gavin Murphy (2) chipping in with some well-struck points.
It was a disappointing finish to the season for Dubai as they failed to spark any momentum in the second half but they can take pride in the fact that they claimed the league crown last month.
The senior women’s final proved to be an enthralling contest with Abu Dhabi na Fianna prevailing by a point (0-8 to 0-7) after extra-time against Dubai Celts.
It was another record breaking afternoon for the girls from the capital as they continued their run of one defeat in nearly 100 games over a four-year spell.
From one to twelve this group is an exceptionally talented side, with Sinead Walker, Niamh Lohan and the elusive Niamh Carroll again immense.
Siobhan Courtney was Dubai’s talisman on the day, bagging all seven of their points.
In the intermediate section, Sharjah Gaels clinched the title with a thrilling 0-7 to 0-6 win over Abu Dhabi na Fianna C.
It was a ferocious contest with both sides trading points throughout. Abu Dhabi did, however, gain the upper hand just before the break to sail into a 0-4 to 0-3 lead, but Sharjah fought back to win by one.
Star men for the winners were the influential Philly O’Callaghan, who kicked six points, while club stalwarts John Healy and Colin Duffy shone.
Elsewhere, Tommy Nolan stepped up to deliver a totemic display as Dubai Celts E defied the odds to win the junior crown with a 1-6 to 0-1 win over Dubai D.