In the era of the atomic slippers, Mohamed Katir makes poetry

Mohamed Katir, at the Spanish indoor athletics championship, last February.

In the midst of the frenzy of the last lap, Mohamed Katir is pure tranquility, it seems more that his accelerated pace is guided by internal rhythms of Sufi dance than a racing heart in search of a mark to break all marks. Short-sleeved T-shirt below the tank top, upright bust, and head. No excess, no agonizing gesture. At no time does he break the harmony of his pose despite the fact that he is wearing sneakers, the Asics Metaspeed, with such an amphetamine name, and its carbon plate and its jumping and light foams, and not nails but some reliefs in the shape of a tiger’s claw. , and made of graphene, which calls for the end of composure, the beginning of a desmelene that does not arrive. Katir, shy with personality, poet in winter, melancholic, aspiring firefighter, does not allow himself to be overcome by the fuss. Just follow the advice of his manager, Miguel Mostaza, who, from the edge of the tartan, reminds him: always behind Ingebrigtsen, always behind, he will take you to the record.

Thus, on Thursday 10th, on a warm June night in Florence, Katir, a 23-year-old boy from Mula (Murcia), with an Egyptian mother and a Moroccan father, finished fourth in the race and broke the Spanish record of 5,000m. with such a good mark (12m 50.79s), that it is the 27th best world mark in history. In Europe only two athletes have run the distance faster: the Norwegian prodigy Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, who finishes first in Florence and breaks not only his national record but also that of Europe with 12m 48.45s, and the Belgian Mohamed Murhit , who in 2000 ran the 5,000m in 12m 49.71s. And at the end of the race, with her mouth closed despite the effort, Katir ran to greet Ingebrigtsen, with whom she regularly trains when they both meet concentrated in Sierra Nevada, the second home of long-distance athletes. Although both will be at the Tokyo Games, it will be difficult for them to meet in the Japanese capital. While the Norwegian has decided to participate in the 1,500m Olympic event, Katir, who also has the minimum in the short event, will do so in the 5,000m, to which she has no shortage of expectations.

With the atomic sneakers that Nike invented and that all brands replicate with greater or less originality, athletes run more, injure themselves less and train better, they all say, and records for midfield and long distance fall rapidly. Last Sunday, the Dutch Sifan Hassan, beat in Hengelo in the 10,000m, with a mark of 29m 6.82s, more than 10s better than the previous record, the one that the Ethiopian Almaz Ayana left in 29m 17.45s in the end of the Rio 16 Olympics, just before the footwear revolution. Ayana’s previous record (29m 31.78s, held by Chinese Wang Junxia, ​​Ma Junren’s athlete, the trainer who enslaved her athletes and fed them turtle blood) had lasted 23 years; Hassan’s has lasted just 72 hours, the three days it took for the Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey to overcome it on the same Dutch track in Hengelo with the same electronic hare systems for led lights with which she had broken the record of the last year in Valencia. 5,000m. Gidey set the world record in 29m 1.03s, touching a barrier, that of 29m, which will surely fall in a test in which the two queens of Nike, Hassan and Gidey face each other.

With his 12m 50.79s, Katir, who could aspire to the title of poet of the atomic shoes, son of the athletics of his time, deletes from the table of Spanish records of 5,000m two names that, children of his time also, more cloudy , took the Spanish fund to the top of Europe, each a decade apart. Twenty years ago, Alberto García approached the 13m barrier with the 13m 2.54s of the Golden Gala in Rome 01. Two years later, the Vallecas athlete tested positive for EPO. In June 2010, it was Alemayehu Bezabeh who, at the Bislett Games in Oslo, became the first Spaniard, and until Thursday, the only one, who ran 5,000m below 13m, with 12m 57.25s. Only four months later he was arrested in El Escorial by the Civil Guard when he was going to proceed with a blood transfusion.

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