'Awful news': Athletics star dies at 24 on eve of Tokyo Olympics

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·Sports Editor
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Abdalleleh Haroun, pictured here at the Muller Anniversary Games in London in 2018.
Abdalleleh Haroun in action at the Muller Anniversary Games in London in 2018. (Photo by S Bardens - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images)

The athletics world is mourning the tragic death of Qatari sprinter Abdalelah Haroun, who was killed in a car accident at age 24 on Saturday.

The Qatar Olympic Committee announced Haroun's death on its social media accounts but did not specify how he died.

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World Athletics later said the former world junior champion “died in a car crash.”

Born in Sudan, Haroun gained eligibility to represent Qatar in 2015.

He stormed onto the world stage by breaking the Asian indoor record in the 400m at the XL Galan in 2015 with a time of 45.39 seconds.

It marked the third-fastest time ever by a junior category athlete and the quickest indoor debut.

He then won silver in the 2016 IAAFF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon.

But his finest achievement came when he won bronze in the 400 meters at the 2017 world championships.

His time of 44.48 seconds secured him third spot behind winner Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa and Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas.

"It is a very special moment for my country," he said at the time.

"And an honour to take the bronze medal with me."

Abdalelah Haroun, pictured here with Steven Gardiner and Wayde Van Niekerk.
Abdalelah Haroun (R), with Steven Gardiner (L), and Wayde Van Niekerk after the 400m final at the 2017 World Championships. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Athletics world mourns death of Abdalelah Haroun

He made it to the Rio Olympics in 2016, but didn't advance to the final.

Haroun remains the national record holder in the 400m with a personal best time of 44.07.

Mohammed Issa al-Fadala, the Qatar Athletics Federation secretary general, said the country had “lost a great hero”, revealing Haroun had been trying to qualify for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics after an injury setback.

“He was in a rehabilitation program after recovering from an injury (in preparation) to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics,” al-Fadala said.

Tributes have been flooding in for Haroun on social media.

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