The new king of the 3,000m steeplechase competition, Sofiane El-Baqali, crowned in Tokyo, was not yet eight years old, when Moroccan and Arab runner Hicham El Guerrouj joined the legends of world athletics, as he achieved the 1500 and 5000m golds in Athens.
Like thousands of his peers, Sufian stood admiring and fascinated by Hisham’s remarkable achievement, and perhaps he was affected, like them, by the tears that Hisham shed hot from his eyeballs, as he stood on the podium listening to the Moroccan anthem playing at the Olympic Stadium of Athens. Once, he fell in the final race of the Atlanta Games in 1996, and another when Kenyan Noah Ngeni surprised him in the last ten metres, snatching the 1500 meters gold from him at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Sufian Al-Baqali had not at that time rid of the attractiveness of football, adored by all children, but when he chose athletics as a sport to inculcate passion and a nest to incubate the great dream, he chose the most beautiful, strongest and most creative of its races, the 1500-meter race that was masters, for decades, runners Arabs. However, on the recommendation of his coach Karim Al-Telmisani, who represents him as the godfather and inspiring person, Sofiane El-Baqali will turn to the 3000m steeplechase, taking advantage of his high height and agility in overcoming obstacles.
Did Sufian choose the most difficult thing in athletics?
Certainly yes, this competition, with its length, obstacles and water pools, needs runners with technical and physiological specifications, which seemed to be available only to Kenyan runners and then Ethiopians.
Al-Baqali made his comeback, his ambition grew, and he became very comfortable with international tracks, strong signs that he could compete with Kenyans and Ethiopians for the race medals, as evidenced by his silver in the World Championships in London in 2017 and his bronze in the World Cup Doha 2019, except that no one but Sufyan was confident that His gold will shine in Tokyo.
Sufian worked on his final speed, as he had never done before, preparing himself to enter the race mill, without being crushed by the Kenyan and Ethiopian fans, and memorized dozens of scenarios, and hoped that the final race would be an exact copy of the tactical plot that he developed with his coach.
Thus, the final race came as the ships of Sufyan desired, and the password was to reach the last pool of water, while he was fully prepared, to burn the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners with his final speed, and publicly declare an Olympic champion, at the age of twenty-five, and shed the same tears of joy Which was shed by his role model and inspiration, Hisham Al-Qarouj, 17 years ago in Athens, and Kenyans have become the biggest obstacle.