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Wed 20 Aug 2008 08:32 AM

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Ramzi strikes gold for Bahrain

Gulf state wins its first ever gold medal at Olympics after men's 1500m triumph in Beijing.

Rashid Ramzi handed Bahrain its first-ever Olympic medal when he won the men's 1500 metres gold medal at the Beijing Games.

The 28-year-old Moroccan-born runner won in 3min 32.94sec on Tuesday, outsprinting the field for the Gulf country's first medal in six Olympic Games dating back to Los Angeles in 1984.

Kenya's Asbel Kipruto Kiprop, who finished fourth in last year's world championships in Osaka, claimed silver in 3:33.11 with New Zealander Nicholas Willis winning bronze in 3:34.16.

"I didn't believe in my wildest dreams that I'd be Olympic champion," said Ramzi, who said he was left speechless by his success, which he rated as good as his 800/1500m double in the world championships in Helsinki.

"But the dream didn't come from nothing. I had to work hard to achieve it.

"I'm over the moon, I can't find the words to describe this victory."

Ramzi added that he would discuss with his coach the chances of him attempting a double by running the 5000m, the heats for which are on Wednesday.

"I have a sore shin so I'll talk with my coach (Khalid Boulami) and we'll see," he said.

Qatar's Kenyan-born Belal Mansoor Ali blasted away to the front of the 12-man field from the start of the race around three-and-three-quarter laps of the packed 91,000-capacity National Stadium in sultry conditions.

He was soon joined by Kiprop, who took the pack through the first 400m in 56.48sec.

Augustine Choge then moved into the lead through to 1200m. As the bell for the last lap sounded, the Kenyan Commonwealth 5000m champion opened up his stride in a bid to up the pace.

The field followed suit, but with 300 metres to go, Ramzi kicked. For a moment it looked as if he had moved too early as Ali shadowed him around the far bend.

But with teeth clenched, the Moroccan-born runner, who moved to Bahrain in 2001 to join the army, maintained his startling burst of pace to outsprint the chasing peloton, including an ever-closing 60-metre gasping effort from Kiprop.

"I saw Ramzi coming in front of me and I had a plan of kicking past him in the last 200m, but I couldn't," said Kiprop.

"He's a great man. Losing to Ramzi is a not a big deal."

Ramzi's victory made up for his semi-final exit at the Athens Games four years ago and replicated the form that saw him become the first athlete since New Zealand's Peter Snell in the 1964 Olympics to do the 800/1500m double in a global championships when he achieved that in the 2005 world championships.

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Mohammad Ghouse AHECAD 11 years ago

It is a great thing for gulf states to achieve the gold medal first time. Ramzi's hard work gives inspiration to other athletes to concentrate on their events. We wish more gold medals for gulf states.