BIRMINGHAM: A personal best for a fourth place finish in his heat wasn’t enough for Shajar Abbas.
The 22-year-old Pakistan sprinter got knocked out of the race for the men’s 100m semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games in the cruelest of ways possible on Tuesday.
Running in heat eight at the Alexander Stadium, Shajar clocked 10.38 seconds to finish behind Jamaica’s Conroy Jones (10.28), Adam Thomas of Scotland (10.30) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Eric Harrison Jr (10.37).
The quirk of the qualifying criteria, however, meant Shajar had to see Jake Doran of Australia, who finished 0.01 seconds slower than him, advance the semi-finals.
Doran had finished among the top two in the second heat with the 27-man semi-final line-up comprising the first and second finishers in each of the 10 heats and the seven fastest losers.
It meant Shajar — who was 27th overall among 70 sprinters — missed out by a fraction of a second with Harrison and Buntin Nadale of St Kitts and Nevis, who both finished in 10.37, advancing to Wednesday’s semi-finals.
“I couldn’t get off to a good start but I recovered and was hoping to go through,” Shajar told reporters. “I tried my best but that’s sport for you … I couldn’t finish among the top two but one sprinter who had a worse time than me went through because he had a second-place finish in his heat.
“I will try to build and improve on this and hope to do well in the next event,” added Shajar, who will also take part in the 200m at the Games.
Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon was quickest overall, in a time of 10.06, ahead of Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala (10.07).
“I’m happy to reach the semi-finals and my next goal is to reach the final,” said Abeykoon, the only South Asian sprinter to have broken the 10-second barrier in the 100m.
There was another personal best for Pakistan’s other sprinter in action on Tuesday but Aneela Ali didn’t even get close to advancing to the semi-finals of the women’s 100m.
Aneela ended dead last in the fourth heat with her time of 14.01 seconds also seeing her finish 48th and bottom overall among the sprinters who were able to finish.
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah confirmed she was the sprinter to beat after running 10.99sec to finish second in the heats behind Nigeria’s Grace Nwokocha.
Thompson-Herah finished third behind fellow Jamaican sprint stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson in the 100m at last month’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.
It was a disappointing performance for the 30-year-old, who topped the podium at last year’s Tokyo Olympics in both the 100m and 200m, retaining the titles she had won in Rio.
But she said she was confident she can reclaim her best form in Birmingham.
“You have to believe in yourself because no-one else can believe in you,” Thompson-Herah said. “I wanted to do well this year. It’s not on God’s watch. It is on my watch. Whatever time I put together, I will work my way back up to the top. [My plans] are to have fun, smile, breath and just run.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, two other Pakistan athletes fell out of the medals race.
In the pool, Haseeb Tariq clocked 24.65 seconds to finish fourth in his 50m freestyle heat but failed to advance to the semi-finals after he was 43rd overall among 71 swimmers.
Mehreen Baloch, the first female boxer to represent Pakistan at the Games, was eliminated in the round-of-16 of the 57kg featherweight competition after losing 5-0 to Sajeewani Coorey Muthuthanthri of Sri Lanka.
Away from the action, officials of the Pakistan contingent said on Tuesday that they will be seeking compensation from the Commonwealth Games Committee after boxer Zohaib Rasheed’s name was excluded by the technical officials in the draw for the men’s flyweight category.
“We will not only write to the Commonwealth Games Committee and the International Boxing Association but will also seek compensation by filing a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” an official of the Pakistan Boxing Federation said.
Pakistan harbor hopes of a boxing medal at the Games through Ilyas Hussain, who advanced to the quarter-finals of the featherweight category when he overcame Trinidad & Tobago’s Anthony Joseph on a split decision on Monday night.
For a place in the semi-finals, Ilyas will take on Northern Ireland’s Jude Gallagher on Wednesday.