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Home > Sports Talk
 
Alia and Betlhem eye Olympic berths

Moni Mathews / 25 April 2012

The presence of top Arab women athletes — UAE’s Alia Saeed Mohammed and Betlhem Deslagn Belayneh — will be the highlight of the Olympic Team Qualifications at the Dubai Open on Friday from 6:30pm at the Police Stadium in Garhoud.

Alia Saeed and Betlhem Deslagn Belayneh in positions 1-2 during the Arab Games 5,000m women’s final in Doha last year. — Reuters files

The unofficial starting time for the big 5,000m trial is 8pm.

The duo will be eyeing the 15m 20s mark for qualification in category A and the 15:30 of classification B to be eligible for a trip to London.” Both athletes will go for 15:20. If one achieves it and the other a 15:30, then the category A  athlete will go to London,” said long time UAE coach Larry Barthlow of the US.

For a comparative look, the world record for the 5,000m stands at 14:11:15 in the name of Ethiopian superstar Tirunesh Dibaba set in the 2008 worlds. The best this year has been a 15:15:91 by Molly Huddle of the US.

Asia’s best in the event for women is 14:28 while Europe has a 14:23 standing. In Latin America the mark is a 15:11 plus.

Alia won medals at the Arab Junior Championships in Cairo and most recently won gold in the 400m and 800m in the GCC Women’s Championships in Abu Dhabi last year.

She competed in the senior race at the World Cross Country and finished a respectable 35.

She will be concentrating on the track this spring and is hopeful of qualifying for the 5,000m for the 2012 London Olympics.

Betlhem has been competing for the UAE for the past year.

Last year she won medals at the Arab Junior Championships in Cairo, the Arab Games in Aleppo and recently the 10km road race in Dubai and the inaugural 5km Women’s Run in Dubai 2011 during the Dubai Marathons.

This past year she has been working on her strength especially in the final burst stages to improve her chances of qualifying.

Alia and Betlhem will set a bench mark for Arab women in the world and the region.

They will be the torchbearers of the spirit of the Arab woman in sports and an indication of what Arab women can achieve in the region.

“The Police Stadium is the perfect venue for the event and showcasing the best athletes as they prepare for the London Olympic Games,” said Ahmad Al Kamali, president, UAE Athletics Federation (UAEAF) and NOC board member in a media release.

Before the day’s events, the UAEAF will celebrate World Athletics Day at the venue.

moni@khaleejtimes.com

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