Fifty-Three-year-old Khamis Abbas says he simply cannot recollect the five minutes following the completion of the mens 400m event at the Asian Athletics Championship. I was watching the race,praying to god that my son does well. The moment the race finished,my mind went completely blank! Five minutes later,when I calmed down,I found myself on the running track, he narrates.
Abbas son,18-year-old Ali Khamis won the silver in the mens 400m,a race he was running only for the second time in a competitive event. Khamis finished behind defending champion,Saudi Arabias,Yousef Masrahi,clocking a time of 45.65 seconds. The five minutes that Abbas Khamis doesnt remember involved Ali Khamis crossing the finish line,Abbas leaping from the stands,shoving away two stewards who tried to stop him and enveloping his son in a bear hug,with tears streaming down both their faces.
Khamis,who turned 18 on June 30,says that he was naturally quite nervous before the start of the race.
I was nervous when I lined up for the event. However,I must thank God for allowing me to keep my wits about me when I ran, he says. Running against Masrahi,who has a Diamond League win to his credit,actually helped Khamis.
Masrahi was fast but his pace allowed me to push a little harder. Also the Japanese runner who came third (Yuzo Kanemaru) was snapping at my heels and that meant that I couldnt lose any ground, he says.
The youngest of five brothers,Khamis father works as a security guard in a Bahraini company. Khamis started running when he was in school and seemed to have a natural aptitude for the track. He did not have a coach nor did he ever undergo any formal training. I guess its just a gift that he has, says his proud father. Khamis was spotted by talent scouts at a school meet and was drafted into the development squad of the Bahrain team three years ago.
He originally started with the 400m hurdles,but later shifted to the 400m run at the insistence of his coaches. In Qatar in April (Gulf Co-operation Council Athletic Championships),my coaches told me that since I run the 400m hurdles quite fast,they wanted to try me in the 400m run. I ran there for the first time and won the bronze. After this medal here,I think I will have to say goodbye to the 400m hurdles, he says with a beaming smile.
Khamis,who graduated from high school at the beginning of June,will be heading to university to study a double-degree,involving business management and mechanical engineering.
However,before he buries himself in academic pursuits,the Junior World Athletic Championships,which will be held in Donetsk in the Ukraine,occupy his focus. I have had a good start to my athletics career,but I want an Olympic gold medal like my idol,(Grenadian runner) Kirani James. And for that,the Junior World Championships is an important step, he says.