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Betty bids to be UAE’s golden girl

1,500m medal for Desalegn at Asian Championships would create history for country

Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE will be looking to add a historic second medal when Betlhem Belayneh Desalegn participates in the women’s 1,500 metres in the 20th Asian Athletics Championships being held at the Shiv Chatrapati Stadium in Pune, India, this evening.

Despite running against some strong contenders including Mimi Belete Gebregeiorgi of Bahrain, Irina Moroz of Uzbekistan, Tatyana Neroznak of Kazakhstan and Japan’s Ayako Jinnouchi, the UAE competitor is expected to end on the podium in her favoured event.

Desalegn, who is commonly known in the UAE athletics fraternity as Betty, has a best time of 4min 05sec, which is well inside the meet record time of 4:12.69 set in September 2009 by Miyumi Sugimori of Japan.

Bated anticipation

“We have great expectations for Betty in the 1,500 metres. As per our calculations she is the strongest contender for the gold, but you never know what can happen during the course of a tactical race of this nature,” Ahmad Al Kamali, president of the UAE Athletics Federation (UAE AF), told Gulf News from Pune.

The 1,500 metres for women is scheduled to be run at 6.10pm local time (4.40pm UAE) today. Both the World and Asian records (3:50.46 mins) stand in the name of China’s Yunxia Qu.

The UAE picked up their first medal on a wet Wednesday night, with Alia Saeed claiming silver in the 10,000 metres. Alia’s medal, which helped her book a place at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow later this summer, was the best ever performance by the UAE on the continental stage.

China leads the medal tally in the five-day meet with two gold and two silver medals, followed by Japan and Bahrain. The UAE are in sixth position, two places better off than hosts India.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s Saud Abdul Karim ended in seventh place in the men’s 400 metres final yesterday evening. Going in with the seventh best time in the heats, Abdul Karim ended at the back of the field in a time of 47.15 seconds as Yousuf Ahmad Al Masrahi of Saudi Arabia and Ali Khamis of Bahrain completed a one-two for the Gulf region. Yuzo Kanemaru of Japan ended with the bronze.

Al Masrahi won with relative ease during the heats and semi-finals on Wednesday.


Juan Martin Del Potro holds the championship trophy after defeating Roger Federer (not pictured) in the men's finals in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.