Tribune News Network
Qatar’s 400m hurdler Abderrahman Samba qualified for this year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest after achieving the qualifying mark en route to his win at the Memorial Ottolia in Savona, Italy on Wednesday.
Samba – a world bronze medallist in 2019 – set a meet record of 48.56 secs to win the event in Italy, which is a World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting. The qualification mark for the World Championship is 48.70 secs.
Home favourite and Olympic finalist Alessandro Sibilio, who was competing after two years, gave Samba a good fight but had to settle for second place in 48.72 secs. Another Qatari hurdler Bassemi Hemeida finished third after his season’s best of 49.98 secs.
The victory in Italy is a significant moment for Samba, who has been struggling with injury post the Tokyo Olympics.The 28-year-old was supposed to begin the season at the Diamond League opener in Doha last month, but was conspicuous by his absence.
In the 400m hurdles, an event that is increasingly making headlines thanks to Norway’s world record holder Karsten Warholm, Samba is the Qatari national record holder with a best of 46.98, the fifth-fastest time ever.
Samba, who finished fifth at the Tokyo Games, was unable to compete in 2022 after injuring his hamstring during warm-up for the Doha event in May. Following surgery and a lengthy period of rehabilitation, he has trained well over the winter under the guidance of his new coach, Massimo Matrone.
“I was in good shape this time last year and I was disappointed to miss out on the World Championships, but I’ve had a consistent block of training and I’m healthy and ready to race. The 400m hurdles is one of the most exciting events and I want to be back in the mix,” Samba had said recently.