Adil Kaouch of Morocco with his short race bronze (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Fukuoka, Japan

World Cross - A miler medals at last

It took the last running of the short race to finally draw a miler as a medallist. Morocco's Adil Kaouch, who took silver at 1500m in Helsinki, announced after the race that "I regret that there will not be forever a short race."

Kaouch stuck with the leading pack throughout the race (he was placed sixteenth at the first two kilometre checkpoints, just a second off the lead,) and had the closing speed to vault from eighth with one kilometre remaining to third at the finish.

"With this being the last year of the short course, I was excited to be in the top three. When I ran in Moscow (Kaouch was 7th in the 3000m in 7:48.01) I got a good result, so I was encouraged for running here."

Good cross means good summer

"Of course since I started athletics, I've always run cross country. I really like it, and I've had good results. Of course, I've had my bad years. But the years when I have good results in cross country are the years when I have good results on the track."

Kaouch's results bear him out. After placing 19th and 10th as a junior in '97 and '98, respectively, then won the 1998 World Junior championships at 1500m. After making his senior championship debut at the Maebashi World Indoors, placing seventh, he made his first of (so far) five appearances in the senior short race in 1999, placing eleventh. That summer he made his first international splash in the senior 1500m. In the 1999 World Championships final in Seville, Kaouch took the role of setting a fast early pace for his teammate, Hicham El Guerrouj, setting up El Guerrouj's championship record 3:27.65 victory.

2000 proved the link between Kaouch's summer track performances and his winter preparation in cross and indoor track. After not running in Villamoura, in Sydney he failed to advance from his heat in the 1500m, and El Guerrouj was eventually upset in a sprint finish by Kenyan Noah Ngeny. In 2001 Kaouch was back to the World Indoor and World Cross double, taking fifth in the Lisbon 1500m final and eleventh in the Ostend short race. Back to his 1999 form, Kaouch was a finalist again in Edmonton in 2001, and again set up a fast early pace to pull El Guerrouj away to victory.

Lean years

There were more "bad years" in 2002 and 2003, as surgery on both knees forced Kaouch to take an extended break from both track and the short race. When he returned in 2004, he took tenth in the short race at Brussels, then ninth in the Athens 1500m final.

2005 brought reward for his years toiling in the shadow of the great El Guerrouj. After yet another eleventh-place finish in the St.Galmier short race, Kaouch was there in the homestretch of the Helsinki 1500m final, challenging eventual winner Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain in the homestretch before settling for silver.

Even with no Olympic or World Championship 1500m final this summer, Kaouch was one of several athletes who pushed particularly hard to do well in this, the last running of the short race. "I prepared to be in the top three or five," he said, "and thanks to God I am here" in third. This, together with his Moscow result three weeks ago, suggests that Kaouch is well-positioned for an impressive summer.

Parker Morse for the IAAF