INCHEON, South Korea (AFP) – Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim took the Asian Games high jump gold with ease on Monday, but passed on a shot at the 21-year-old world record on a cold, wet night in South Korea.
The 23-year-old said he wanted to use the Asiad to take a shot at Cuban Javier Sotomayer’s record of 2.45 metres after jumping 2.43m in the Diamond League earlier this month.
But after two failed attempts at 2.40m, with gold already safe, Barshim decided enough was enough and celebrated defending the Asian Games title he won in 2010.
China’s Zhang Guowei could not find the spring to match the 2.35 that Barshim had cleared with ease and settled for silver.
To add to the joy in the Barshim household, bronze went to the Qatari’s younger brother Muamer, later seen sporting a cap with the slogan “What gravity, huh?”
There was more gold for the Gulf state as Mohamad Al-Garni delivered on his promise to add the men’s 1,500m to the 5,000m title he won on Saturday, outpacing Bahrain’s former world champion Rashid Ramzi in an exhilarating sprint over the last 200 metres.
After crossing the line in three minutes 40.23 seconds an elated Al-Garni turned and embraced fellow Moroccan-born runner Ramzi, who was stripped of the gold he won at the 2008 Olympics and banned for two years after testing positive for banned blood booster EPO-CERA.
Al-Garni said he had skipped races in Europe to focus on the Asiad and now aimed to run under 3:30 – four seconds below his current best – in readiness for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Sadly even the prospect of seeing Barshim take a shot at the world record was not enough to entice supporters and the vast grey stands of the new 62,000-seater Asiad Main Stadium were again largely empty for the third day of athletics competition.
There was a Bahraini one-two in the women’s 1,500m as Olympic bronze medallist Maryam Yusuf Jamal added another gold medal to her collection.
The 30-year-old two-time world champion, who now has three Asian Games golds in the 1,500m and one in the 800m, admitted she had to dig deep to beat teammate Mimi Belete.
India’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Seema Punia threw 61.03m, just short of her season’s best, to win the women’s discus.
Strong showings in the shot, javelin and 800m saw Uzbekistan’s Ekaterina Voronina to gold in the heptathlon, while Maria Londa of Indonesia achieved a personal best 6.55m to scoop a surprise gold in the long jump.