BAHRAIN'S Yusuf Saad Kamel is in a race against time to get ready for his world title defence at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea. The worlds take place from August 27 to October 4 and Kamel has been named as part of an 11-member Bahraini team that will be flying the kingdom's flag at the biennial International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) event.
But after a dormant season that included just one appearance in an international-level race, it is currently uncertain whether Kamel will be gunning for back-to-back gold medals in the men's 1,500 metres.
"Yusuf has been working hard in his training camp over the past few weeks, but we are still not sure if he will be ready to defend his 1,500m title," Bahrain Athletics Association (BAA) technical manager Lounes Madene told the GDN last night.
"He has not competed at all this year except for one event in Brazil, and there we saw that he was not fit at the level needed for Daegu. However, he promised to work extra hard in his camp so he can also race the 1,500m, and his coach says that he has progressed very nicely, so we shall see.
"With Yusuf, anything is possible. He can prepare himself seriously for only two months and become the world champion; that's how talented he is. We hope he will be ready, but now, it is still open."
Kamel's stunning title-winning show at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, Germany also included a bronze in the 800m.
He is one of two Bahraini athletes who are reigning world champions. The other is Maryam Yusuf Jamal, who is a back-to-back women's 1,500m gold-medallist. Maryam will be aiming to secure an unprecedented third gold in a row as she hopes to bring her fine form this season, which includes the world lead in her event of four minutes 00.33 seconds, to Daegu.
Maryam has been training alongside Kamel and fellow-Bahraini Mimi Salem in St Moritz, Switzerland in preparing for the worlds.
A record 14 Bahraini athletes have qualified for this year's championships, but three will not be taking part due to injuries.
Apart from Kamel, Maryam and Mimi, the Bahrain team includes Asian champion Hassan Mahboob and veteran marathoner Khaled Kamal Yaseen, plus an array of up-and-coming youngsters including Billisuma Jamal and Dalhan Nezar among the men; Shitaye Mubarak, Tejitu Baba, Jameela Shami and Lishan Dula amongst the women. Nezar, Shitaye, Tejitu and Jameela are also Asian champions.
They all geared up for Daegu with a training camp in Font Romeu in France, and Madene believes that some of them can make some noise in the upcoming worlds.
"Our athletes have achieved the whole of their specific preparation in excellent conditions; we have observed with satisfaction the visible improvement of the training level, and we feel convinced that they are actually ready to perform well in Daegu, even if they are still young and even if the principal target for them is the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics," said Madene.
The other Bahraini athletes to qualify for Daegu but will not be running due to injuries are Tareq Mubarak Taher, Adam Ismaeel Khamis and Kareema Saleh Jassim.