14 OCT 2001 General News

Khalid Skah wins Great South Run and eyes marathon future

Khalid Skah wins Great South Run and eyes marathon future
By IAAF Correspondent
15  October 2001 – Portsmouth, England – Khalid Skah, the 1992 Olympic 10,000 metres champion, yesterday revealed his intention to become one of the world’s best marathon runners.

On a perfect morning for road running by the English coast in Portsmouth, Moroccan Skah won the BUPA Great South Run with a superbly-controlled performance.

And seconds after he crossed the line, he set out his markers for the year - his debut at the marathon.

“I am not sure where it will be but that is my aim because I believe I can be a great marathon runner,” said Skah.

“When you look at Paul Tergat, he has won the World Cross Country title but he has not won the Olympics on the track. I have.

“Haile Gebrselassie has won the Olympic gold, not the World Cross. I have done them both and now I want to challenge for something at the marathon.

“I am pleased with my run here and I am looking to the challenge which the marathon will bring.”

Skah has trained regularly with his former countryman and marathon world record-holder Khalid Khannouchi and said: “We have worked together both in Morocco and New York and I am looking forward to that first race.”

Boston or London could become the target for a man who dominated proceedings yesterday.

He was never outside the lead group and it was only a matter of time before he stamped his authority over the biggest 10 miles road race in Europe with an estimated 10,200 runners.

Kenyan John Mutai set the standard in his usual style by starting fast and leading the men through the first mile in 4.33.

But Mutai was not 100 per cent fit and dropped away as quickly as he had taken the lead.

Skah, the former world half-marathon champion who was 10th in Bristol at this year’s event a week ago, took over briefly before the race developed into a lead pack of four.

Joining Skah were Kenyans George Okworo, Hillary Lelei and Simon Kasimili and they dominated the next three miles.

The South Coast had been the hottest part of Britain the day before with temperatures soaring towards 80 degrees but it was a cloudy morning with a cool breeze that greeted the leaders when they reached the halfway point.

It was there that Kasmili dropped away with Skah, Okworo and Lelei forming a large breakaway. From then on the race was between those three.

The pace slowed between miles six and seven, dropping to 4.50 before Skah increased the speed.

He ran the ninth in 4.37 and though Okworo stayed as close to him as he could, Skah’s strength told as he won by two seconds in 46.17 minutes.

Lelei was third in 46.38 with South African Chipj Abner fourth in 47.48 followed by Kasimili in 47.53.

“I look for fighting spirit from these races and I had a great run today,” said Khah.

Tanzania’s Restituta Joseph won the women’s race with a fine performance in 52.36 from Latvian Jelena Prokopchuka who was second in 53.35 with Annie Emmerson of Britain third in 55.13.