Noureddine Hadid’s Olympic dream came to an end Wednesday as the Lebanese bowed out of the men's 200 metres heats in Tokyo.
Despite finishing with a time of 21.12 seconds - the fastest ever by a Lebanese athlete at an Olympic Games - Hadid finished last of eight runners to miss out on a semi-finals spot.
Starting in lane 2, Hadid was out of the blocks quickly and into the bend but was left isolated on the inside in the final 100m. Unable to muster the same surge down the home stretch that saw him into the finals of the Asian Games in 2019, Hadid crossed the line last behind winner and gold medal favourite Noah Lyles.
World champion Lyles clocked a time of 20.18 with Sibusiso Matsenjwa of Eswatini setting a new national record to finish second with Ghana's Joseph Amoah third to book their places in the semi-finals taking place later Tuesday.
Hadid can hold his head high having had to work harder than most athletes just to get to Tokyo. Amid the pandemic with limited competitions and mass disruption to training schedules, the soldier from Nabatieh has had to endure economic and financial hardships of living in Lebanon, including seeing his own army wage shrink to less than $150 a month.
Hadid was running in a speed suit and spikes that had been donated to him, after The National reported in June that he was training in spikes that were so worn down they had holes in them, and was competing with a speed suit that had been borrowed indirectly from former Olympic champion Justin Gatlin.
His appearance on the 200m start line was the first be a Lebanese since Mohammed Siraj Tamim at the 2008 Beijing Games, who was also eliminated in the first heat.
Hadid is the national record holder for Lebanon in the 100m, 200m and 400m, as well as the 60m indoor and 300m.