Bahrain seal athletics top spot after final-day gold rush

20 May 2017
Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser competes during the Women's 400m of the Athletics events at the Baku 2017.
Bahrain's Sadik Mikhou competes during the Men's 1500m of the Athletics events at the Baku 2017.

Bahrain produced more gold-medal magic to top the athletics medal table ahead of Azerbaijan on the final day of track and field competition at the Islamic Solidarity Games on Saturday.

On a wet evening in Baku, the Olympic stadium track was laden with surface water, which made conditions difficult for the athletes.

But that didn't stop the Bahrainis as Sadik Mikhou ran a perfect 1500-metre race to clinch the men's gold medal.

The heavens opened just as the race got underway, but Mikhou burst clear in the final 200 metres to claim gold with a time of 3 minutes 36.04 seconds which sealed Bahrain's ninth athletics title.

Morocco claimed the other two podium places as Fouad Elkaam went one better than the bronze he won in 2013. He grabbed silver in 3:37:81 while his countryman Brahim Kaazouzi took bronze.

The Gulf state's 10th gold arrived shortly after as Abraham Cheroben produced a masterful performance to win the men's 10,000-metre title.
Cheroben, who finished 10th in the Ryo Olympic final, was neck-and-neck with Turkish duo Ali Kaya and Kaan Kigen Ozbilen until the final 400 metres, but he surged clear on the final lap to finish well ahead of his rivals in a time of 27 minutes 38.76 seconds.

Ozbilen (27:41:99) took silver while his compatriot Kaya, the 2013 champion, faded badly to miss out on the medals as Moroccan Soufiyan Bouqantar clinched bronze.

Bahrain signed off in athletics with 11 golds - one ahead of the Azeris - as their female sprinters waltzed to victory in the 4x400-metre relay final.
The 400-metre individual gold medallist Salwa Eid Naser produced a rapid first leg before 200-metre gold medallist Edidiong Ofonime Odiong, Aminat Jamal and 400-metre hurdles champion Oluwafemi Adekoya finished things off in 3 minutes 32.96 seconds.

A strong Nigerian team featuring 400-metre bronze medallist Yinka Ajayi took silver (3:34:47), while Turkey were awarded bronze after Morocco's disqualification.

Turkey signed off in style in a strong final day with Yasemin Can grabbing gold in the women's 10,000 metres to add to her 5,000-metre silver.

The European Championship gold medallist was far too strong as she clocked 31 minutes and 18.20 seconds.

Bahrain's Rose Chelimo was just under 20 seconds adrift in second while UAE's Mohammed Alia retained bronze from four years ago.

Turkey continued on the gold-medal trail, as Osman Can Ozdeveci hurled 19.83m in the first round to clinch the men's shot put title.

Sultan Alhebshi of Saudi Arabia grabbed silver with an effort of 19.56m, while Uzbekistan's Sergey Dementev took bronze.

Turkey rounded off Saturday with their third gold of the day in the very last race as they secured the 4x400-metre men's relay title.

Enis Unsal, Batuhan Altintas, Sinan Oren and Yavuz Can timed 3:06:83 to seal Turkey's eighth athletics gold.

Pakistan finished superbly to gain silver ahead of Oman as a strong Bahrain team - featuring 400-metre individual gold medallist Ali Khamis Khamis and 200-metre silver medallist Salem Eid Yaqoob - slumped to fourth.

Hussain Al Hizam secured Saudi Arabia's second athletics gold as he dominated the men's pole vault final.

The 19-year-old produced a clearance of 5.55 metres on his fourth attempt to wrap up the title, while 2013 bronze medallist Romdhana Mohamed Akine went one better as he took silver on 5.30m.

Algeria's Hichem Khalil Cherabi grabbed bronze.

Morocco finished on seven golds as they secured a one-two finish in the men's 400-metre T12 disability final.

Mahdi Afri made light work of the rest of the field to clock 49.64s and finish ahead ahead of compatriot Ayoub Haimouda.

Uzbekistan's Doniyor Saliev won the men's long jump T12 gold as he leapt 7.12 metres on his third attempt.

Saliev's effort edged out home favourite Kamil Aliyev with the Azeri just two centimetres away from glory as he took silver ahead of compatriot Oleg Panyutin.

Saman Pakbaz launched 15.69 metres to win gold as the Iranians dominated the men's shot put F12 disability final.

Pakbaz's score on his fifth attempt was far too good for the rest in a four-man final, fellow Iranian Masoud Heidari clinched silver.

Azerbaijan's only gold of the day came on Saturday morning after Elchin Muradov won the men's long jump T11 disability final.

A leap of 5.76m clinched gold ahead of Indonesia's Abdul Dalimunte, while another Azeri Zeynidin Bilalov snatched bronze at the age of 51.

Azerbaijan's tally of 10 golds left them one short of Bahrain, while Turkey's final-day flourish saw them finish third in the athletics table.

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