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BEST FINISH!

BAHRAIN signed off from their best-ever performance in the Asian Athletics Championships last night, winning another six medals on the final day of competition in Pune, India, reports PATRICK SALOMON.

Dejene Regassa captured the Bahrainis' lone gold medal yesterday in the men's 5,000 metres. His fine performance headlined a spectacular showing by the national team along a wet track at Shiv Chhatrapati Stadium.

Three silver medals were won by Bahrain's Alemu Bekele, Shitaye Ehsete Mubarak and Genzeb Shumi in their respective events, while a couple of bronze medals were picked up by Tejitu Baba and Belal Mansoor Ali.

Last night's medal haul brought their overall tally to 15 after five days of competition, including five gold, seven silver and three bronze medals.

Bahrain thus finished an unprecedented second overall on the championship's final standings, ranked only behind continental powerhouses China who came away with 27 medals in all, comprising 16 gold, six silver and five bronze medals.

With yesterday's results, Supreme Council for Youth and Sports first deputy chairman and Bahrain Athletics Association president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa congratulated His Majesty King Hamad on the success of Bahrain in the competition.

Shaikh Khalid also commended His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, as well as Supreme Council for Youth and Sports chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Bahrain's previous best finish in the continental showcase was in the 2011 edition of the event, held in Kobe, Japan. The nationals won nine medals in all then.

In the men's 5,000m final, Regassa led a fantastic one-two for Bahrain in a dominant run that saw them celebrating off the track while the other runners still had laps to go.

Regassa clinched first place in a winning time of 13 minutes 53.25 seconds, while Bekele followed not far behind in 13:57.23. Emad Hamed Nour of Saudi Arabia came away with the bronze medal.

It was Regassa's first medal of the competition, while Bekele won his second after also winning the gold in the men's 10,000m.

On the distaff, a pair of Bahrainis were also on the podium in the women's 5,000m race, with Shitaye and Tejitu claiming second and third place, respectively.

Betlhem Belayneh of the UAE clinched the gold after stealing the lead from Shitaye at the bell and racing to the finish in first place. She had a winning time of 15:12.84, which was a new championship record.

Shitaye won the silver in 15:22.17, while Tejitu came away with the bronze in 15:38.63.

Tejitu also won her first medal while Shitaye had her second. She had also won the women's 10,000m title on the first day of the championships.

In the women's 800m, Genzeb had to settle for a silver medal despite trying hard to catch gold-medallist Wang Chunyu of China in the finish.

Chunyu won in 2:02.47, while Genzeb finished in 2:04.16 for her silver. Tintu Luka of India claimed the bronze medal in 2:04.48.

In the men's 800m, Belal was no match for winner Musaab Abdelrahman Balla of Qatar who led from the start all the way to the gold medal in 1:46.92.

Abdulaziz Ladan of Saudi Arabia was the runner-up in 1:47.0, while Belal trailed not far behind as the bronze winner in 1:48.56.

Former World champion Youssef Saad Kamel had a respectable sixth place finish in the double-lap race, considering it is his first competition back since a long lay-off. He finished in 1:50.54.

Genzeb won her first medal of the competition, while Belal clinched his second after also winning the bronze in the men's 1,500m.

Following yesterday's action, the championships' official closing ceremony was held.



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