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Ramzi returns

FORMER World champion Rashid Ramzi will be returning to the track for the first time in nearly five years next week.

Ramzi will be a part of Bahrain's national team competing at the 20th Asian Athletics Championships, taking place in Pune, India, from July 3 to 7.

This was confirmed last night by the Bahrain Athletics Association (BAA).

Ramzi has not competed in a top-level competition since late 2008. In April of 2009, he was charged with doping and despite contesting the accusations, was eventually slapped with a two-year ban by from all competitions by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Ramzi was also stripped of his men's 1,500 metres gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Ramzi's suspension ended in 2011 but he has not yet competed in any meeting. The 33-year-old has now been named by the BAA as part of an 18-member squad that will be battling for medals in Pune.

"Rashid is well known in the sport of athletics and we are very pleased that a runner of his calibre is coming back," BAA vice-president Mohammed Jalal said.

Test

"Rashid is a former World champion in the 1,500m and 800m and the Asian championships will be a good test for him, especially with the world championships coming up this August in Moscow."

Apart from Ramzi, the team will have one other former World champion in Youssef Saad Kamel. Kamel will be one of the top runners in the men's 800m.

Meanwhile, Bahrain's other World champion, Maryam Yusuf Jamal, has decided to withdraw from the Asian championships.

She was set to compete in both the women's 1,500m and 800m, and was set to be one of the gold medal favourites in both the events.

The rest of Bahrain's 13-man men's squad includes Ali Omar (100m, 200m and 4x100m relay), Mohammed Jassim (10m, 200m and 4x100m relay), Abdulla Al Amiri and Issa Hassan (both 4x100m relay), Mohammed Yousef (triple jump), Abdulrahman Khamis (long jump) Ali Khamis (400m and 400m hurdles), Belal Mansoor Ali (800m and 1,500m), Alemu Bekele (5,000m and 10,000m), Nezar Dalhane (5,000m) and Bilisuma Shugi Jamal (10,000m).

Without Maryam, the women's hopes of capturing a medal fall on five runners, including Genzeb Shumi (800m), Mimi Belete (1,500m), Shitaye Eshete Mubarak (5,000m and 10,000m), Tejitu Baba (5,000m) and Kareema Jassim (10,000m).

Jalal said that the BAA has done everything it can to provide the best programme and facilities for the athletes' preparations for the upcoming competition. This came following directives from Supreme Council for Youth and Sports first deputy chairman and BAA president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al khalifa.

Jalal explained that the athletes had been training at various camps, with some athletes gearing up in Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia and Switzerland.

Jalal added that the BAA is hopeful that Bahrain can surpass its success from the previous edition of the Asian championships in 2011 held in Kobe, Japan.

The Bahrainis came away with nine medals from the meeting, including five gold medals, two silver and two bronze medals, helping them claim an impressive third overall behind only continental powerhouses China and hosts Japan.



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