Commonwealth Games 2018: Rabah Yousif hoping for individual rewards after World Championships relay bronze
PUBLISHED: 13:30 05 April 2018
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When you win a medal at the World Championships on your home track, you would think that would signal a successful summer – but not for Newham & Essex Beagles’ Rabah Yousif.
Despite claiming a 4x400m relay bronze at the London Stadium in 2017, Yousif was left with a sense of frustration at the campaign in general.
“Last season was a huge disappointment,” claimed the 31-year-old 400 metre runner.
“I won a bronze medal at the World Championships in the relay, but individually, it was not good enough.”
The Beagle, having won relay bronze at the 2015 Worlds in Beijing and 2016 Europeans in Amsterdam, after taking European gold in Zurich in 2014, was controversially overlooked when it came to the individual places on the Great Britain team for the Worlds in Stratford, but is philosophical about missing out.
“You have to go for it from the start of the season and get selected early, but because of injuries, I started too late and didn’t do what I needed to do to get a place in that team,” added Yousif.
He has managed to secure places in the individual 400m – in which he has a personal best of 44.54secs – and relay events in the Gold Coast and it has been a long road for the Sudan-born athlete.
Yousif arrived in the United Kingdom at the age of 14, when he applied for asylum, but it was a rocky road.
He faced deportation, but by that time he was living with a British woman who he married in 2008, before finally becoming a British citizen in 2013.
It was an experience that has shaped Rabah and he is immensely proud to be running in England colours.
“I am absolutely honoured to be representing England,” he said.
“I have come a long way in my life and I will always be grateful to this country. It is such a great opportunity for me.”
Yousif missed out on the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow four years ago through injury, so this is his big chance to show what he is capable of on the Gold Coast.
“I am very excited,” he said, before jetting off.
“I am really looking forward to it. I have been in World and European Championships and at the Olympics, but this will be my first Commonwealth Games. I am really going for it.”
It certainly won’t be easy for Yousif.
Some athletics events at the Commonwealth Games are not of the highest quality, but in the 400m, it is only really the Americans who are missing.
“There is a lot of competition,” he admitted.
“We have athletes from Jamaica, Canada and South Africa as well as my own team-mates from England.
“There are so many impressive athletes out there. The 400m is so full of talent.”
Loyalty is such an important word for Rabah, both to his new country and to his club – the Newham & Essex Beagles.
“I always remember what club I am at and so I will be looking to compete in all four British League matches for the Beagles this summer,” he said.
“It is important to give something back and to help the youngsters coming through. I’ve always believed that and I will never, ever forget Newham.”
Yousif has already had two warm-up races Down Under, improving his time from the first to the second to show that he is fit and raring to go.
He will look to strike gold in the 4x400m relay in Australia, but what does he think of his chances in the individual competition over one lap?
“I will do my best and I hope that I can make the final,” he said. “After that, who knows? I always run to win.”
Rabah has the determination to achieve anything and if he can make that final, then a medal is a distinct possibility.
Yousif will begin his campaign on Sunday, April 8 at the Carrara Stadium.
Meanwhlie, Yousif’s Beagles clubmate Robbie Grabarz will be looking to add to his own career medal haul in the high jump, having won European gold in 2012 and bronze at the London Olympics that same year.
Grabarz also won silvers at the 2016 World Indoor and European Championships and another at the 2017 European Indoors.
But the British record-holder – who has a personal best clearance of 2.37m – travels on the back of a disappointing World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, where he finished ninth with a best jump of 2.20m.
Sadly, sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who anchored the GB men’s 4x100m relay squad to gold at last year’s Worlds, was forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury.
The 23-year-old’s place was taken by Hackney’s Reuben Arthur, 21, who makes his England debut Down Under.