JAKARTA: The curtain on the 18th Asian Games came down yesterday, but Saudi Arabia closed out their campaign early with two more medals over the weekend to take their total tally for the two-week multi-sport event to six.
Runner Tariq Al-Amri finished third in the Men’s 5000m race, while Ramy Al-Duhami claimed bronze in the Jumping Individual Equestrian event. The two medals combined with a gold in team jumping last week, bronze and silver in karate, and a silver in shooting, means the Saudi delegation will return home with their worst haul in 28 years.
Al-Duhami and his horse Ted were leading going into the final round at the Jakarta International Equestrian Park, but incurred a penalty of four points, seeing him drop to third. Kuwait’s Ali Al-Khorafi and Qatar’s Sheikh Ali Al-Thani finished in the gold and silver spots.
“I am happy because we won the gold medal in the team event and then I won bronze in the individual category,” Al-Duhami said afterwards. “The competition is very strong here so we have work to do to improve before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Asian Olympic Council, said he took great pride in seeing an all-Arab podium in equestrian. “The medals have been won in a competition that the Gulf people cherish because horses are their heritage,” said the Kuwaiti. “The victory of the Gulf people with gold, silver and bronze medals is a joy. I congratulate the Qataris and the Saudis, and, as a Kuwaiti, also congratulate my own countrymen.”
Inside the nearby Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Al-Amri was part of another all-Arab podium as Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew clocked a time of 13 minutes 43.17 seconds to take gold ahead of his fellow countryman Albert Rop. Twenty-seven year-old Riydh-born Al-Amri took bronze at the 2017 Asian Championships and emulated that achievement with a time of 13 minutes 56.49 seconds.
Bahrain’s remarkable late flurry of medals — eight in two days — took them to 26 for the Games. China, as they have done from 1986 onwards, topped the athletics medals table with 12 gold, 12 silver and nine bronze, but Bahrain were not far behind, with 25 medals — 12 gold, six silver and seven bronze.
In the football final, South Korea beat Japan to ensure Son Heung-min and his teammates avoid mandatory military service, but in the bronze-medal match earlier in the day at Pakansari Stadium, the UAE defeated Vietnam to finish third. The Emirates drew 1-1 in regular time before triumphing 4-3 on penalties. It was the Young Whites third successful penalty shootout of the Games.
“We are happy and the most important thing is that you see your country’s flag being raised wherever you go. This is the most important thing for us,” heroic goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Shamsi told Arab News. “We were looking forward to the final, but this is football. We have to be happy with bronze and we come back stronger the next time we compete.”