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Said Aouita the Arabian knight

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Uploaded on Aug 8, 2008

Saïd Aouita (Arabic: سعيد عويطة) (born November 2, 1960) is a former Moroccan athlete, winner of 5000 meters at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Born in Kenitra, Morocco, Saïd Aouita dominated middle distance running in the 1980s at all distances between 800 meters and 5000 meters. He was the only man at the time capable of running 800 m in sub 1:44, 1500 m in sub 3:30, 3000 m in sub 7:30, 5000 m in sub 13:00, and 10000m in sub 27:30. He raced and won against the Olympic champions Joaquim Cruz, Peter Rono, John Ngugi and Alberto Cova over their respective main distances. Between September 1983 and September 1990 he won 115 of his 119 races. The defeats were against world champion Steve Cram over 1500 m, Olympic bronze medalist Alessandro Lambruschini over 3000 m steeplechase, Olympic champions Joaquin Cruz and Paul Ereng over 800 m and world champion Yobes Ondieki over 5000 m.

Aouita's first major international competition was the 1983 World Championships held in Helsinki where he contested the 1500 m. In the final, the pace dawdled for the first 1000 m, tactics that did not suit Aouita, and he was outkicked by the kickers, finishing third. After this experience, Aouita decided to run 5000 m at the Los Angeles Olympics. The 5000 m final was run at a very fast pace set by Antonio Leitão from Portugal, which suited Aouita much better than the tactics used in Helsinki. He stayed behind Leitão and then sprinted past him on the last lap to win.

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