On May 23, it was raining in the city of Gateshead, Northern England. Mercury was hovering around 12 degrees Celsius with precipitation. Let alone the sprinters, the distance runners would have opted to sit indoors with a hot cappuccino in their hands. But Mohamed Katir had other plans.
He was blazing away to a 5000 meters victory in the season’s first diamond league leaving behind a star-studded field. A relatively unknown runner had stunned the athletic world by running a fabulous 13.08.52 in a very unsuitable running condition. What followed Gateshead was a string of remarkable performances by Katir that made him a medal favorite in Tokyo.
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The win in Gateshead was a testament to Katir’s grit and determination. On June 10 in Florence, Italy, he ran a 5000 meters race which saw some of the fastest timings being produced. Katir finished fourth, breaking the Spanish National record with timing of 12.50.79. It was just the beginning of Katir’s new hobby of breaking records.
After two strong performances, the Spaniard returned to the Monaco diamond league to run 1500 meters alongside the great Timothy Cheruiyot, Stewart McSweyn, Jakob Ingebrigsten, and others. Katir held on to second place trying to catch Cheruiyot in the last 100m, producing a mind boggling time of 3.28.76, which was a new Spanish National record.
However, Katir was not done yet. Within a span of 5-days, he returned to the place where his magical journey had begun, in Gateshead to participate in another round of the Diamond League. This time it was the 3000 meters. After his remarkable performances, the 23-year-old started the race as a favorite alongside Stewy Mcsweyn. With 3 laps to go the duo had separated from the rest of the field with Katir eclipsing the leading McSweyn.
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In the end, the sprint finish of Katir reigned supreme as he finished the race ahead of McSweyn with another National record race timed 7.27.65. He had run the final three laps in an astonishing time of 2:53. In a span of 33 days Katir had broken 3 national records and has put himself to the driver’s seat in the men’s 5000 meters at the Tokyo.
Before the start of this season, Katir was not a name that rung alarm bells nor did anyone have much clue about it. His only noticeable performance was his 4 th place finish in 3000 meters in the European Indoor athletic championship 2021 held at Torun, Poland.
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Born in Morocco, Mohamad Katir immigrated to Spain like many other African athletes. He is 23 years old and hails from Murcia of Spain. He is trained by Gabriel Lorente. Heading to Tokyo he shall be one of the dark horses to look out for in the Men’s 5000 meters.
The men’s 5000 meters in Tokyo will definitely be one of the toughest events. Katir’s prime challengers come in the form of the current 5000 metres world record holder Joshua Cheptegei, his countrymate and world half marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo, and the 2016 Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo to name a few.
But with the form Katir is in and the supreme finishing speed he possesses, nothing less than a medal should disappoint him.
Christopher Walken once said, “At its best, life is completely unpredictable.” The quote sums up the riveting performance of young Katir. What started as an out-of-the-box win in Gateshead ended with a destined win in Gateshead. It won’t be raining nor spine-chilling cold in Tokyo, but the exact opposite of it.
But Katir’s head with a plan and heart with a dream shall not be hindered by it. The head of Katir, a shy boy calls for calm, but his legs are in the clouds.