Qatar’s Olympics team took to Twitter to a post a tribute message to him which read: “Team Qatar sprinter and world 400m bronze medalist Abdalelah Haroun died today.”
“Haroun died in a car accident in Doha,” the federation’s secretary general, Mohammed Issa al-Fadala, said separately to AFP.
“He was in a rehabilitation programme after recovering from an injury [in preparation] to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Qatar sports and athletics, on a global level, lost a great hero.”
Haroun broke on to the athletics scene in 2015 when he set an Asian indoor record at the XL Galan in Stockholm of 45.39 seconds in the 400m.
The following year, he finished second at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in the US, and then tasted bronze success in London at the World Athletics Championships after that in 2017.
“It is a very special moment for my country,” Haroun said at the time of his achievement, “and an honor to take the bronze medal with me.”
Two gold medals were landed at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia in the 400m and 4X400m relay events.
Born on New Year’s Day in Sudan in 1997 as the eldest of five siblings, Haroun enjoyed football and boxing too but ran a 49-second 400m race in his debut aged 16.
Accepting advice from a coach, however, he decided to move to Qatar to live with his uncle and run for the Middle East country.
In April 2014, he set a national U18 record of 45.74 seconds in the capital Doha and became one of the world’s most promising 400m sprinters.
His mentioned Asian record in Stockholm was the third fastest by a junior category athlete in history and the fastest ever indoor debut.
Harhoun’s stock continued to rise when he comfortably beat Anas Beshr of Egypt by almost a full second during the Arab Athletics Championships in 2015 through a time of 44.68.
He was then able to establish himself as one of the continent’s leading senior athletes in June 2015 after overcoming two-time defending champion Yousef Masrahi of Saudi Arabia at the Asian Championships.
At the close of a long season in 2016 which saw him achieve World U20 Championships 400 gold with a time of 44.81 seconds in Poland, Haroun was unable to get further than the semi-finals stage at the Rio Olympics.
Bouncing back at the London World Championships in 2017, he finished third and in 2018 enjoyed two gold medals at the Asian Indoor Championships in Tehran and Asian Games in Jakarta.
Also that year, he set a national record of 44.07 in the Diamond League but failed to advance to the semi-finals at the World Championships in the capital of his adopted homeland Doha in 2019.
After a year lost to covid, though, Harhoun was hopeful of traveling to Tokyo for the postponed Olympic Games.
But as confirmed by Issa al-Fadala, that tragically won’t be possible now.