‘Fit, healthy and motivated’ Samba to make Diamond League return in Doha

‘Fit, healthy and motivated’ Samba to make Diamond League return in Doha

Alkass Digital

After a frustrating couple of years interrupted by injury, Abderrahman Samba - Qatar’s national record holder over 400m hurdles - will open his Wanda Diamond League campaign at the Seashore Group Doha Meeting on May 10 against 2022 world champion Alison Dos Santos (BRA).

The 2019 world bronze medallist Samba had the world at his feet when he ran the Asian record of 46.98 in Paris in 2018, only marginally outside the then-world record of 46.78. Much has changed since then. The world record now stands at 45.94 and the 28-year-old’s progress has been agonisingly halted each time he’s fought back to fitness.

Following his podium finish at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Samba then missed the 2020 season. He competed sparingly in 2021 but managed a fifth place finish in the Olympics in 47.12. He injured his hamstring during warm-up for the 2022 Doha Diamond League event and to the disappointment of his adoring home crowd, was unable to compete. He missed the rest of the season.

2023 was also interrupted by injury - notably, he was injured going over the first hurdle at the Diamond League event in Paris in June - but he enjoyed a welcome return to form with victory in the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China (3 October). In doing so, he successfully defended his title with a season’s best of 48.04, the second-fastest winning time ever at the Asian Games behind his own Games record of 47.66 from 2018. He led a Qatari 1-2 with compatriot Bassem Hemeida - who will also line up in this year’s Doha Meeting - taking silver in 48.52.

“My Asian Games victory meant a lot to me after going through such testing times,” said Samba, who opened his season with a flat 400m in South Africa in March, clocking 45.55. “I’m now fit and healthy and I’m motivated to build on that performance as we move into this Olympic summer. After the disappointment of the last two years, I’m looking forward to racing in front of a home crowd in Doha. The 400m hurdles has moved on significantly in recent years, but if I can stay healthy and continue to train consistently, I’m confident I can be back in the mix for a medal in Paris.”

Dos Santos, the Olympic Games bronze medallist in 2021, has endured his own injury struggles. The 23-year-old enjoyed a remarkable 2022 campaign during which he went undefeated in the 400m hurdles, including winning the world title in a championship record (and Brazilian record) of 46.29, the third-fastest time in history. He was crowned Wanda Diamond League champion later that season, but in early 2023 he seriously injured his knee. To his credit, he returned to action in a fiercely competitive Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco and went on to finish fifth in the World Championships in Budapest.

The Seashore Group Doha Meeting is the third meeting of the 2024 Wanda Diamond League series which comprises 15 meetings in total across four continents.