Updated Sunday, August 8, 2021 –
02:53

Nationalized after leaving a Moroccan team in Santiago, he is a coach for a former policeman in Lleida. The Kenyan repeats gold and succeeds Bikila.

Kipchoge, winner of the Sapporo goal.AFP

The marathon dominated by the new Abebe Bikila, the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, had a Spaniard in the dispute for the medals until the last kilometer. It is Ayad Lamdassem, another 39-year-old representative who is among the finalists of the delegation in the Games, thanks to his fifth place in the grueling Sapporo circuit, where the humidity has led marchers and marathoners to the chamber of horrors. The others were the canoeist Teresa Portela, bronze, and Sandra Sanchez, gold in karate. All exemplary races. Lamdassem’s also involved a change of country, a flight, after abandoning a team from his country in search of a better life. Looking at the sky over Japan at the finish, he gave thanks.

The medal did not arrive, as it had already happened with the marathoners, but their performance was remarkable. It endured the selections of athletes that the Kipchoge train put to the test. The Kenyan commanded in an imperial manner, from beginning to end, without requesting or asking for relief, and finished in 2: 08.38. It was his career, it was his gold and he had nothing to do with it.

Kipchoge ran as he did at 5,000 or 10,000. It was bronze and silver, respectively, in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 in the shortest distance. In Rio, the gold was already hung in the marathon. In these Games, he reigns at 36, three less than Lamdassem.

The truth of km 40

Few such exhibitions, by authority, recall the Olympic marathon. If anything, that of Bikila, who won in Rome ’60, barefoot under the Arch of Constantine, and repeated precisely here, in the 1964 Tokyo Games. From Ethiopian to Kenyan, the African plateau reigns in the same place. They followed him on the podium Abdi Nageeye Y Bashir Abdi, nationalized Dutch and Belgian, respectively. The second encouraged the third to beat the Kenyan Lawrence Cherono.

Lamdassem left with these men in a selection that was already definitive to define the fight for the medals, towards km 30. He was going with an ideal race pace, but in the marathon nothing is what it seems. The truth always arrives towards km 40. Then, the last change of the Africans was already unbearable for the Spaniard. He entered the finish line physically decomposed but smiling despite his fifth place. It doesn’t taste like chocolate for this veteran long-distance runner. it tastes like life, new life.

Lamdassem came to run a university marathon in Santiago de Compostela. When he was in the hostel, he took his passport, left and did not come back. Some time later, in 2002, he appeared in Lleida. They had told him that there was a coach who could help him. He was a policeman.

Lamdassem, in the group with Abdi, Cherono and Nageeye.
Lamdassem, in the group with Abdi, Cherono and Nageeye.AFP

Antonio Cnovas He has told the story to those who have asked him, although Lamdassem, his athlete, was far from the spotlight. Born in Sidi Ifni, he had been able to nationalize thanks to his brands, in 2007, and a year later, he raced in the Beijing Games. He repeated in London, although always beyond number twenty.

This season was going to be different, his coach had warned. The reason was that in the previous years, Lamdassem had run many races, marathons and others, to earn money with which to feed his family. Has three sons. The pandemic stopped them and the athlete was able to train almost exclusively with Tokyo as a target.

Work at Font Romeu

The Spanish long-distance runner, of Moroccan origin, spent periods at the Font Romeu station for altitude training, accumulated up to 280 km per week and performed “runs” of up to 40, with changes of pace to simulate tactical races. In 2020, in Valencia, he broke his record for Spain, with 2: 06.35. The jump was obvious.

After the Moroccan, in Sapporo, Dani Mateo (position 21) and Javi war (33) completed the test that closes the athletics of the Games, in which Spain, despite a single bronze, of Ana Peleteiro in triple, it has curdled by score the second best Games in its history, with a medal and 10 finalists.


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