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Betlhem Bel Ayneh won the UAE's first athletics medal with bronze in the women's 1500 metres on the first day of the track and field events at the Arab Games on Thursday.

Bel Ayneh compensated for her colleague Aliah Saeed, who did not start the race because of a last-minute injury and had to withdraw from the competition.

The race was led from the word go by Bahraini runners Genzeb Shumi and Aster Tesfye, who were followed by Moroccans Siham Hilal and Hanane Ouhaddou.

Bel Ayneh was fifth in the early exchanges.

Tesfye withdrew on the penultimate lap and Ouhaddou tripped on the final lap only 200 metres before the finish line to offer an opportunity for Bel Ayneh, who found a sprint finish to grab third.

EoACAyOnly the start'

Shumi won the gold medal in 4:20.07 followed by Hilale in 4:20.83, while Bel Ayneh finished in 4:21.50. "It is only the start," Mohammad Mahkoum, UAE athletics team manager, said after the race.

"We are optimistic with our chances and despite we felt sad about the injury of Aliah Saeed, Betlhem made us happy with her strong finish and overall performance.

Well prepared

"The competition was tough and so will be all the other races because all the Arab countries have brought their best athletes and all of them are well prepared for the competitions.

"I am confident that this medal will motivate all our athletes to do their best and have confidence in their capabilities which will really help them to show their true worth."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 17, 2011
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