JAKARTA: Saudi Arabia finally clinched its first gold medal of the Asian Games on Tuesday when the national equestrian team came first in the Team Jumping event at the Jakarta International Equestrian Park.
Consisting of Abdullah Sharbatly on his horse Carrera, Khaled Aleid on Kayenna of de Rocky Mounten, Khaled Al-Mobty on Desert Storm II and Ramzy Alduhami riding Ted, the four-man team combined to collect minimal penalties of 10.90 in the final round. Dressed in smart deep-green suit jackets, white shirts and ties, and crisp khaki pants, they secured the Kingdom’s first gold since Sharbatly won the Individual Jumping event at the 2014 Games in Incheon.
Japan finished second after recording penalties 12.74, while Qatar were made to settle for bronze with penalties 20.50. Kuwait and UAE finished in fourth and fifth respectively, demonstrating the domination West Asia has of the sport. Sheikh Latifah Ahmed Juma Al-Maktoum congratulated the Saudi Arabia team on winning gold, adding she views the Kingdom and the UAE as one family.
The first-place finish helped Saudi Arabia ascend the medal table, moving up to 25th, ahead of Lebanon and Iraq with the equestrian gold joining shooting silver and two medals in karate, one silver and one bronze. That haul expected to improve further when Sharbatly defends his individual jumping gold on Thursday, however, before that Hussain Al-Hizam will be in athletics action on Wednesday with high hopes in the Men’s Pole Vault.
“He has the potential, for sure,” said Majed Basonbul, Saudi’s chef de mission in Indonesia, who watched Ahmed Al-Muwallad finish fourth in the Men’s 110m Hurdles. “We are hoping for a medal in Pole Vault, but we know the level of competition is very high.”
Also in action on Wednesday is the UAE football team, who will contest their semifinal against Japan at the Pakansari Stadium in West Java. Japan, vanquishers of Saudi Arabia in the last eight, won the tournament in 2010 when they beat the UAE 1-0 in the final, but Maciej Skorza is confident of causing an upset.
“With each match, the team improve,” the UAE’s Polish coach said. “They possess a strong personality, therefore fear nothing when confronting any team. Our qualification to the semifinal is well deserved because the team have put in a lot of effort and time. We have set the bar pretty high. Although the match against Japan won’t be easy, our aim is to win and qualify for the final.”
Bahrain were the biggest Arab winners for the third consecutive night inside the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, adding two gold and two bronze medals to their already impressive haul. The tiny Kingdom has now won 16 medals, all in athletics.
Bahrain won the Mixed 4 x 400m Relay courtesy of Ali Khamis, Salwa Naser, Oluwakemi Adekoya and Abbas Abbas. They held of India and Kazakhstan to take first place by a little under four seconds. Meanwhile, Kalkidan Befkadu took gold in the Women’s 5000m with a time of 15 minutes 8.08 seconds, ahead of Daria Maslova of Kyrgyzstan and Bontu Rebitu, also of Bahrain. And Manal El-Bahraoui finished third in the Women’s 800m.
Qatar also added another gold to your collection when Ahmed Janko and Cherif Samba beat Indonesia’s Ade Rachmawan and Mohammad Ashfiya in the Beach Volleyball final.