Updated 24 February 2008
Abubaker KAKI, Sudan (800m)
Born 21 June 1989, Elmuglad (between Khartoum and Darfour)
Coach: Jama Aden
Abubaker Kaki, a double 800m gold medallist at the All Africa Games in July 2007, in Algiers, and the Pan Arab Games in November, in Cairo, is one of the best junior athletes in the world. He proved it this season when setting a world junior indoor record for 1000m (2:15.77) in Stockholm on February 21.
He started athletics in 2004. The son of a footballer, he first wanted to follow in the footsteps of father Khamis, playing as a goalkeeper in his school team. But, in the district where he lived, a lot of youngsters, including his neighbours and schoolmates, used to run and jump everywhere.
Abubaker enjoyed it and wanted to train with them. He defeated them and discovered that he had skills they didn’t have. Three months later he went with his friends to the stadium where he met many athletes. He then decided to train with them. In May, coach Mahmoud Keino took him under his wing and directed him to the 1500m and the 3000m. He ran in 4:09 and 10:22 respectively.
It earned him coach Jama Aden’s support as he advised him to focus on the 1500m, gave him some kit, and decided to take care of him. A few weeks later, in May 2005, he took part in the Eastern Africa Youth Championships, in Tanzania, and was 7th in the 1500m (3:54) and 6th in the 800m (1:56) Encouraged by his times but not by his placings, Kaki then decided to train more and make the necessary sacrifices to reach the top.
With his sights on the 2005 World Youth Championships in Marrakech, Morocco, Kaki tested himself every week at 800m and 1500m. In July, he managed to clinch the 1500m bronze medal in 3:45.06. In September, Tunis hosted the African Junior and the Arab Senior Championships. In the first event he finished 7th in the 800m in 1:50.30 and he took the 800m bronze medal at the Arab Championships in 1:48:43.
In 2006, Kaki opened his season in Khartoum, winning the 800m in 1:47.2. He then set a new personal best at the Rabat meet (1:45.78) but his lack of experience prevented him from scaling the podium at the World Junior Championships, in Beijing, where he had to settle for 6th in 1:48.46. He ended the year with two silver medals at the Arab Junior Championships in Cairo (1:48.36, 800m; 3:47.58, 1500m)
Cheered up by his four sisters and father, who hopes that his only son will become a great champion, Kaki achieved very good results in 2007. First he improved his 800m personal best in Doha, running in 1:45.52, before winning the Khartoum Pan African meet, the Eastern African Championships in Uganda, and the Arab Championships in Jordan.
After a two-week training camp in Morocco, he clinched the first big success of his young career when he claimed the 800m gold at the All Africa Games, in Algiers, in 1:45.22 ahead of stars like Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, of South Africa.
Lacking the experience of big championships, Kaki had an off day at the World Championships, in Osaka, and failed to advance to the semis. But it is just a matter of time for the 18 year old who ended the season strongly, taking the silver medal at the World Military Championships in Hyderabad, India (1:49.22) and two golds, at 800m and 1500m, at the Pan Arab Games, in Cairo. He produced a particularly outstanding performance over two laps in Cairo, recording 1:43.90, the fourth best in the world in 2007.
In 2008, Abubaker Kaki successfully competed in three indoor meetings in his lead-up to the World Indoor Championships. He first clocked 1:46.06 in Leipzig (second-best at 800m this season) then in the space of a week ran the two leading marks at 1000m, with 2:15.77 in Stockholm and 2:16.15 in Gent, making him one of the favourites for the medals in Valencia
800m: 1:43.90 (2007) / 1:46.06i (2008)
1000m: 2:15.77i (2008) WJR
1500m: 3:45.06 (2005)
2005: 1:48.43; 2006: 1:45.78; 2007: 1:43.90; 2008: 1:46.06i
2005 3rd World Youth Championships, 1500m (3:45.06)
2005 3rd Arab Championships, 800m (1:48.43)
2006 6th World Junior Championships, 800m (1:48.46)
2007 1st Arab Championships, 800m (1:45.9)
2007 1st Eastern Africa Championships, 800m (1:45.80)
2007 1st All Africa Games, 800m (1:45.22)
2007 2nd World Military Championships, 800m (1:49.23)
2007 1st Pan Arab Games, 800m (1:43.90)
2007 1st Pan Arab Games, 1500m (3:47.92)
Prepared by Taoufik Gacem for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.