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Khannouchi says he’s fit for Worlds – Tarasov sidelined
23 July 2001 - Khalid Khannouchi, the marathon world-record holder, plans to compete at the IAAF World Championships in Edmonton despite recent back trouble. The Moroccan-born runner will be representing the United States for the first time since becoming a citizen last year.
Khannouchi strained muscles in his back during a nine-mile (14.5-kilometer) race in Utica, New York, on July 8. He dropped out after six miles (10 kilometres), putting in doubt his status for the championships. "I’m going to compete," he said Sunday. "I’ve gotten a lot of support from my family and the people I work with since I got the back spasms. I think I can do my best. I have a lot of faith and hope. I feel I am back. I know I did the training and that will give me confidence I can compete with the best."
Khannouchi set the world marathon best of 2:05.42 seconds at Chicago in 1999. He ran his last marathon at Chicago in 2000, winning at 2:07:01.
Khannounchi’s injury came four days after he finished sixth in the Peachtree 10k at Atlanta. "I probably didn’t get enough rest in between races," he said. "I felt good at Peachtree. Now I am trying to get my focus back. I feel this is my chance, my opportunity to compete for the United States."
One of Khannouchi’s leading opponents will not be making the trip to Edmonton, double World Marathon Champion Abel Anton will not defend his title in Canada after turning down a place in the Spanish team.The 38-year-old, who won the World Championship in 1997 and 1999, had been included in the provisional squad in May but was not in the final team announced by the Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) on Monday.
Anton’s fellow countryman Martin Fiz, sixth in last year's Olympic marathon, is also absent from the team. The 1995 World Champion, who is also retiring this season, has withdrawn because a sciatic nerve problem has hindered his training programme.
The marathon will be the first event at the World Championships, which begin on 3 August 3 at Edmonton, Alberta.
Russia’s Maxim Tarasov will be unable to defend his pole vault title in Edmonton after seriously injuring his ankle at the IAAF Golden League meeting in Monte Carlo over the weekend.
"He had surgery on Sunday and doctors said it would be at least 90 days until he can resume training," Russia’s athletics coach Valery Kulichenko told Reuters on Monday. "It’s a bad injury as he dislocated his ankle and also tore ligaments."
Tarasov, who won the pole vault gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as well as the last World Championships in Seville in 1999, injured his ankle landing from an unsuccessful attempt at 5.85 metres on Friday.
Tarasov’s injury is the latest blow for the Russian team, who hoped to match their performance of two years ago in Seville, where they won six gold medals.
"What can I say, we have had (Irina) Privalova, (Svetlana) Masterkova pulling out with injuries and now it’s Tarasov. It has been a very unlucky year for us so far," Kulichenko said.
Olympic 400 metres champion Privalova was forced to pull out after undergoing knee surgery earlier this year, while Masterkova will not defend her 1500 metres title after struggling with injuries over the last two years.
World Indoor 800 metres Champion Yuri Borzakovsky also said last week that he would not compete at the World Championships to be held in Edmonton, Canada, from August 3 to 12.