On a sizzling day at Son Thuy Beach, Qatar’s Idriss Yousef won a punishing 6-km men’s cross country race at the 5th Asian Beach Games on Thursday morning.
On the last day of the beach athletics competition, the 19-year-old runner from Doha completed three laps of the 2km course in 19 minutes, 6.45 seconds.
Pham Tien San of Vietnam was 9.74 seconds behind in 19:16.19 to claim the silver medal, and Qatar took the bronze through Jamal Hairane, who finished third in 19:34.21 - 27.76 seconds behind his team-mate. Another member of the Qatar team, an exhausted Musaab Ali, required urgent medical attention after finishing 11th in 20:29.49 and suffering from dehydration on a burning hot day.
Gold medal-winner Idriss said he had been training on sand at high altitude in Saudi Arabia to prepare for the Asian Beach Games, but still he suffered in the tropical heat and humidity of South-East Asia. “I am very dizzy. This is my first competition to run on the sand and it was tough for me,” he said. “I was very tired in the last 1km, but still I tried to push myself to the end. When you arrive at your destination you always have a big smile, even though it was so tough.”
Idriss added: “It is the first time for me to compete in the Asian Beach Games and it is not like track and field. Sand is more difficult and you need patience if you want to win.” Qatar also won the men’s team event, in which the best three times from a maximum of five athletes counted towards the total. Vietnam finished second and Thailand third.
In the women’s 4km race, Vietnam occupied the top five places to sweep the podium in the individual cross country and with it the team gold. Pham Thi Hue won the 2-lap race in 13:56.29, followed by Nguyen Thi Oanh in 14:02.01 and Lo Thi Thanh in 14:12.05. In the other event on the last day of the beach athletics programme, Vietnam’s Nguyen van Hung won the men’s triple jump with a leap of 16.63 metres on his sixth and final effort.
Tepparak Pratchaya of Thailand won the silver with 15.81, also on his last attempt, and Harry Diones of the Philippines took home the bronze with 15.72 metres. Vietnam won five gold, six silver and three bronze medals to finish on top of the beach athletics competition, followed by Thailand (2-2-3) and China (2-2-2).