Athletics Athletics

Disquiet in Asian Games over ‘Africa’ gold rush


MARYAM-BAHRAININCHEON, September 29- Discontent grew over African-born athletes at the Asian Games on Monday as two-time world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal led another assault on the track and field medals.

Ethiopian-born Jamal tore down the home straight to win the women’s 1,500 metres, just before Moroccan-origin Mohamad Al-Garni and Rashid Ramzi finished one-two in the men’s race.

Qatar’s home-grown high-jumper Mutaz Aissa Barsham did not challenge Javier Sotomayer’s 21-year world record but he still took gold with his brother Muamer third.

A day after Nigeria-born Femi Ogunode beat Chinese and Japanese runners to claim a new Asian 100m record, athletes and a senior official spoke out about imported talent.

“I think it’s unfair because they are taller and have a longer stride,” men’s 100 metre silver medallist Su Bingtian told AFP. “They are more powerful and athletic. Physically we are at a disadvantage.”

Japan’s Kei Takase, who was third in the 100m, said Asians could be “left behind” as the bar set by African runners at Asia’s Olympics gets “higher and higher”.

And Olympic Council of Asia honorary vice president Wei Jizhongo said countries should “work together to decrease” the number of imported medal-winners.

“If they buy some athletes they stop the training of their athletes. This is not beneficial for their country’s sports,” Wei told reporters.

Al Garni’s 1,500m gold was his second of the Games after the 5,000m on Saturday. As he crossed the line he turned and embraced Ramzi, who was stripped of his Olympic title and banned for two years over the banned blood-booster EPO-CERA.

“I want to win in at the Olympics in two years and I have to start from this moment,” said the Qatari.

“I have to work from now. I have to concentrate to train hard and impossibility is nothing. I can do it,” he added.