NANJING: The Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre and the slightly warmer weather appear to have inspired Idriss Moussa Yousef to produce a career best two-lap race at the second Youth Olympic Games yesterday.
The 17-year-old Qatari runner, who clocked 1:50.77 to finish third in the heat one of the 800m event, booked a place in Monday’s A final, which will be held at 2.55pm Qatar time.
Anthony Kiptoo, the fastest runner this season with an incredible time of 1:46.80, failed to advance. The Kenyan faded in the third heat and could get only 1:52.55.
Yousef, whose previous best and season’s fastest was 1:51.85, ran a fine race. Within the first 200m, he caught the leading trio, led by American Myles Marshall. Slowly he pushed himself and managed to place himself third behind Marshall and Swiss Tom Elmer, both among the three sub 1:51.00 runners this season.
The race gathered more pace after 400m and Yousef edged Elmer to be behind Marshall, whose best stands at 1:48.43 earlier this year. With about 20m to go, it appeared that Yousef would settle for the second spot, he was overtaken by a charging Moroccan Mohamed Elamrani.
The acceleration of the heat was so strong that five of the seven runners managed to get into the A final. Marshall was timed at 1:50.22 and Elamrani clocked his personal best of 1:50.26.
Other two qualifiers from the first heat were Godrey Chama of Zambia and Elmer.
According to the times, Yousef finished as the fifth fastest qualifier and is all set to produce the run of his life on Monday in search of a medal.
After finishing with his personal best, Yousef was quite excited and commented: “I’m really very pleased with my run tonight. A race of this kind was needed to book a place in the final. So I’m very excited with my performance.
“Also I feel that with this time, I will make it to the Final A and will try to take my performance a notch or two higher on Monday,” he said before the other two heats were run.
“The race was hard and run at a great pace. I managed to push myself among the frontrunners. I could have finished in the second place but just near the finish line, I was beaten by the Moroccan runner,” added Yousef, while trying to gather his breath.
The second heat was won by Ethiopian Bacha Morka Mulata, who took 1:51.18. Among the seven runners in this heat, he was the only one to make it to the A final.
The third heat produced two qualifiers — winner Geofrey Balimumiti of Uganda and Australian Ryan Patterson.