Abderrahman Samba in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
In only his second full season of 400m hurdling, Qatari sensation Abderrahaman Samba has dominated on the Diamond League circuit and posted the second fastest time in history with an awe-inspiring 46.98 in Paris. The tall and athletic 22-year-old athlete speaks to the IAAF about his passion for the discipline.
“I recall my club in Saudi Arabia entering me for an 800m back in 2011, but the experience did not go well. I ran 2:12 and I felt really tired because of the lactic. I think that is when I realised I was not an 800m athlete but a sprinter.
“For many years I focused on the 200m and 400m and I did not even think about the 400m hurdles, although I was aware of the 400m hurdles because Hadi Al Somaily of Saudi Arabia won a silver medal in the event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“It was during a South African training camp in March last year when my coach (Hennie Kotze) gave me some 400m hurdles tests out of the blocks. It went well, we were both excited by the possibilities in the event, so we decided to compete at the following weekend’s club meeting, where I recorded 50.53. Then a week later, in only my second ever 400m hurdles race, I ran below the World Championships qualification time with a 49.24 time. I liked the success I was enjoying in my new-found event and this is why I decided to specialise as a 400m hurdler.
“There is no doubt the 400m hurdles is a very challenging event. It tests many things like endurance, speed, good technique and a good stride pattern but I think that is why I enjoy it.
“I like being able to learn something from every race, and I also have the extra bonus of being able to travel to other countries around the world. I am lucky to make money from my passion, but I’ve also met many kind people and made many great friends from my time in the sport and, God willing, I could also meet my future wife!
“I enjoy the 400m hurdles for many reasons. Good training sessions make me excited, happy and lift my confidence and I also love to break records and make history in competition. I am very thankful for the talent God gave me and I just want to be able to fulfil my potential.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF