Home | News    Sunday 10 August 2008

Sudan’s hopes in the Olympic games lie with teenage runner

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August 9, 2008 (BEIJING) — The hopes of strife-torn Sudan for an elusive Olympic medal lie squarely on the teenaged shoulders of 800m runner Abubaker Kaki Khamis, in only his second full season over the event.

Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki Khamis celebrates after winning the final of the men’s 800 metres at the 12th IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championship in Valencia March 9, 2008. (Reuters)

Kaki, as he is known, has taken the world stage by storm and while not reaping the notoriety of Sudan-born runner Lopez Lomong, who was picked as the US team’s flag-bearer at the Games opening ceremony, is a much surer bet for a podium finish.

Kaki, just 19, arrives in Beijing as the All-African and Pan-Arab champion in the 800m. He recorded a leading time this season of 1min 42.69sec at the Bislett Games in Oslo in June and has been in imperious form in the two-lap event.

His time was also a new world junior record, knocking a massive 0.95sec off Kenyan Japheth Kimutai’s previous best in 1997, and a sharp reminder that a great talent had arrived.

"Great pace, great race. I felt the power. My first world record. I’m extremely happy," said Kaki at the time.

In March, Kaki, who is from Nuba Mountains, had become the youngest ever world indoor champion (at 18 years and 262 days) when winning a gripping 800m final in Valencia.

He led from start to finish, and completed the final 200m in just over 26sec.

"My coach told me to go to the front and run as fast as possible and these tactics were good," he said.

"I think I can run well in Beijing."

Kaki acknowledged that the world indoors in Spain had offered him a chance to alter the negative world view of Sudan.

The African country has been wracked by ongoing civil unrest that has seen 300,000 deaths in the Darfur region, according to UN estimates, as well as the displacement of 2.2 million others since 2003. The Sudanese government puts the number of fatalities at 10,000.

"Valencia was a great experience. It was the one thing I could do to change the bad image of my country," said Kaki, whose own training had been disrupted earlier in the season when unrest prevented him and his training group leaving Khartoum for a high-altitude camp in Yemen.

Kaki then surprised many by competing, and winning, at July’s World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Kaki’s welcome back to football-obsessed Sudan after winning the world indoor title was incredible, he added, admitting that the government had also gifted him a parcel of land.

"I could not believe it. There were about 15,000 people on the street and at the airport."

Kaki’s coach, Jama Aden, a former Somalian 800m runner who has taken up British citizenship, said his charge was now the most popular sportsman in Sudan.

"They are expecting him to win (Olympic gold)," said Aden, who first noticed Kaki as a 15-year-old in a school cross-country run in which he set off at a fast rate of knots but faded to finish 20th.

"I don’t think a silver medal at the Olympics is good enough for them after what I have seen from the reception at the airport. It was like Brazil winning the World Cup."

Despite enjoying training camps in Yemen, Sweden and Spain, most sessions still take place in Sudan, according to Aden.

"We train for the most part in Khartoum, which has the only track in the country. At each training sesseion, there are 3,000 fans who come and cheer us on."

Aden said Kaki may plough some funds into rebuilding training facilities in Sudan should he continue his winning ways on the lucrative European circuit.

"He can’t be number one in the world and train with those facilities. We really appreciate it when we come to Europe and see the facilities and think ’wow’. If Sudan had facilities like that, they would produce millions of Kakis."

Asked if he was eyeing Kenyan-born Dane Wilson Kipketer’s 800m world record of 1:41.11, Kaki said: "That may be for another year. But anything is possible and I always give it my best shot."

(AFP)

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  • 10 August 2008 03:59, by Mr Famous Big_Logic_Boy

    Unhealthy to see people calling Sudan arab country/islamic nation,what is the prove before everyone can consider,just because of the name "Sudan" or because of criminal al bashir of "Notorious Criminal Party" NCP as northern president.This language of calling Sudan arab nation/Islamic nation does not reflect my view or my pride of being created as an organsim of South and Sudan in general.I just condemn that this should be used for today just because we are heading to the entire CPA,but it must not be tolerated to cross the bridge of CPA.

    • 10 August 2008 04:20, by Omer

      Its great to see that the Arab/Islamic Sudan is producing such great athletes. Its also great to see an Arab/Islamic athlete becoming so famous. I hope that the Arab/Islamic Sudan will continue to prosper and develop.

      Insha Allah.

      • 10 August 2008 05:07, by Mr Famous Big_Logic_Boy

        A word has nothing to do with,but a words can cause a bad attention if it is like "aggressive one being used in Sudan",therefore because your language tells me that your immature out of your mind and suffering from chronic sickness i would have rather explain it you but it is not part of my logic to deal with such kind of stallion creatures,rushing to the site and writting jumbles has nothing to tell the readers and the entire communities around the World.by than to say islamic or Sudan #%@*! why don’t you think and imagine if your a normal human.I hope you understand and am not going to waste my time with little idiots.

      • 10 August 2008 05:07, by Ayuen Buol mum

        Jurmathiang...Sudan is not Arab/Islamic state brother....the guy is a Nuba or is he arab/islamic nuba, I never heard that nuba is arab than being a nubian.

        I think in 2011 your Idea of sudan arab state will die in front of you ....by cutting all necessary things that let you boss in the name of africanism.

        Sudan is a sudan multicultural society other than your extremist ideas of arab.

        • 10 August 2008 13:44, by Biar-again

          Good Mr Logic!

          Very wise comment for the first time. Infact Mr Logic, this is what we have been expecting out of you to direct your madness that way, not against your own people whom you will not escape and whom you must have to live with untill the death knock at your door.

          Enjoy your raw cassava tonight with lot of congrats.

  • 12 August 2008 19:01, by Gatdelha

    Omeraar!!

    Sudan as a Arab/Islamic country,what nonsense!! you didn’t say this because you believe in it, but simply for sake of writing I am quite sure. When did Nuba become Arab!are trying to cheat Nuba again like what you used to do? for your info, Nuba and Darfuri are aware of your lies and I don’t think you will be able to cheat them any more! back off.

  • 12 August 2008 19:10, by Gatdelha

    if I become the president of Sudan or if any African Sudanese become the president, this rubbish Arab world flag that were introduced to our country by the idoit Japher Nuemeri of Egypt, could replaced with the real flag of Africa Sudan. I hate the current flag of Sudan! I don’t why SPLA made the same colourfull and ugle flag it is a nightmare!

  • 12 August 2008 19:12, by Gatdelha

    if I become the president of Sudan or if any African Sudanese become the president, this rubbish Arab world flag that were introduced to our country by the idoit Japher Nuemeri of Egypt, could be replaced with the real flag of Africa Sudan. I hate the current flag of Sudan as it make Sudan look like the rubbish Arab country! I don’t know why SPLA made the same colourful and ugle flag!! it is a nightmare!



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