11 APR 2000 General News

Marathon king Khannouchi may bid for U.S. track team


Adrian Warner (Reuters)

11 April 2000 – The world’s fastest marathon runner Khalid Khannouchi is trying to race through red tape as well as marathons as he bids to run at this year's Sydney Olympics in a United States vest.

The Moroccan, who shattered the world mark by an astonishing 23 seconds in Chicago in October in only his third marathon, is poised to gain U.S. citizenship by May 3, his wife Sandra revealed on Tuesday.

Khannouchi, contesting the London marathon on Sunday, may still not be able to participate in the U.S. marathon trials just four days later but he remains determined to try to make the Games track team.

Sandra Khannouchi, ruling out any possibility of him racing for Morocco in Sydney, said: "If we get the citizenship after the marathon trials - we will talk after London - then we will think about the track trials where I believe Khalid has a good chance of making the Olympic team for the 10,000 metres.

"He hasn't run on the track for five years. But that doesn't mean anything. He can even break the American record, I'm telling you."

Khannouchi would have more than two months to adapt to the track after gaining his citizenship because the U.S. trials do not take place until mid-July.

DIFFICULTIES

Khannouchi had his difficulties with the Moroccan federation and went to the U.S. in 1993. He married his coach and manager Sandra in 1996.

Competing in both the London race and the U.S. marathon trials in such a short period of time would be a tall order. Marathon runners usually require a lengthy period between races to recover.

He has decided to come to London to race because he had agreed with organisers that he would only pull out of the event if his citizenship had come through before Sunday.

But Khannouchi may still try to run the two marathons close together if he feels good after Sunday's race where he is the 6-4 favourite to win.

The Moroccan refused to answer any questions about the nationality issue at a news conference on Tuesday. The recent furore over it has bothered him psychologically.

But his wife said: "We will see how he recovers and see what he can do. (But) Two marathons in three weeks, I don't agree with that."

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