New US Citizen to Miss Olympics

Published June 14th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Moroccan marathon world-record holder Khalid Khannouchi, who obtained an expedited United States citizenship to try and achieve his Olympic dream, will not compete at the US Olympic athletics trials. 

His wife Sandra Khannouchi, who also acts as his agent and coach, told USA Today that the star runner will instead rest injuries to ankle, hamstring and groin injuries he suffered in a third-place finish at April's London Marathon. 

US officials cleared typical years of red tape to get Khannouchi citizenship in time for last month's US marathon trials in Pittsburgh, only to hear he was too injured to compete after running in London three weeks earlier. 

At the time, the Moroccan-born runner said he would compete July 14 at the 10,000-meter trials in Sacramento, California. 

"There's not time to peak for July 14," Sandra Khannouchi said. "If I hurry things up in training, Khalid will probably get hurt again trying to do too much too soon. 

"Khalid doesn't want to go to the Olympics just to say he went for the US. He wants to bring something back. If he can't, then it is not worth it for him to go." 

Instead, he will stay in Ireland a third week for treatment, spend a week at home in suburban New York and then come here for six weeks of high-altitude training with a plan to race again August 5 at a 10km race in Portland, Maine. 

He will then prepare for a fall event, most like the Chicago Marathon in October or New York Marathon in November. He set the world record in Chicago, where he has raced the past three years. 

The runner's new citizenship is not jeopardized by his backing out of a quest he talked about for more than a year. He got the US citizenship after his wife, a US citizen, accepted an overseas job. An expedited method exists for spouses of US citizens with jobs abroad. 

Had Khannouchi run at the US trials and qualified, his Olympic spot was still not certain. Under International Olympic Committee rules, Moroccan officials would have had to approve Khannouchi's competing for the US team, something they had shown no sign of doing – (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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