Qatar's Shaheen Saif Saaeed, the World Steeplechase champion who is entered for both the short and long races at next week's 32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Brussels (20/21 March) took the short course win at the recent World Military Cross Country Championships.
The 51st CISM World Military Cross-Country Championships were held in Beirut, Lebanon, on 1 - 5 March 2004 and the least we can say is that our top-notch military dirt-track runners enjoyed ideal conditions to make a show of their consummate skills.
Thirty countries, 286 athletes contested the championships on a challenging course at the Lebanon Golf Club.
The organisation of this championship was simply flawless, along with the country’s usual hospitality and even the weather, which decided to favour the organisers with sunny conditions and a delightful 25 degrees.
After an era of Moroccan supremacy, has military cross-country entered a new age of domination, this time by athletes from the Persian Gulf, and in particular from Qatar and Bahrain?
It is a legitimate question in view of the near total hegemony of these two countries in the various events. Qatar won the men events and not content with gold and silver plus team silver in the short cross, they prevailed in the long cross too, bagging individual gold and bronze and a second team title.
Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar won the short course race prevailing over teammate Hassan Abdullah Ahmad - who is also in the World Cross line-up for Brussels - and Bahrain’s Salem Jowher.
The first seven runners who crossed the finish line were all either Qatari of Bahraini athletes.
In the Long race, Rwanda’s Dieudonné Disi, who fully intended to retain the title he took last year in Saint-Astier, France, had to yield to the superiority of Qatar’s Moustafa Ali Ahmed Shebto. Ali Dawod Sedam completed the podium. Qatar bagged team gold, with Morocco and Rwanda finishing second and third in that order.
With team silver and bronze respectively in the men’s short and long crosses, the Moroccans’ dreams of gold rested on Zhor El Khamch’s shoulders, who like Shaheen will compete in Brussels.
The talented Moroccan met their expectations, outclassing the opposition to win her fifth World Military title, beating Germany’s Zaituc and Latvia’s Poluskina.
Morocco also won the team title, with France finishing second -and bagging its first medal in a women’s cross-country event in the process - and Germany third.
CISM and IAAF
1. Zhor El Kamch (MAR) 14:58
2. Luminita Zaituc (GER) 15:33
3. Juaa Poluskina (LAT) 15:43
Men Short Cross
1. Saif Saeed Shaheen (QAT) 13:04
2. Ahmad Hassan Abdulla (QAT) 13:05
3. Salem Jowher (BRN) 13:07
Men Team Short Cross
Men Long Cross
1. Moustafa Ali Ahmed Shebto (QAT) 33:16
2. Disi Dieudonne (RWA) 33:17
3. Ali Dawod sedam (QAT) 33:24
Men Team Long Cross