19 May 2007 04:18

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SW News
  • Title: [SW News] (USA TODAY) Foreign-born stars make run at national team in the USA
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  • Date :[05 May 2000]

 

Foreign-born stars make run at national team


By Dick Patrick
USA TODAY

Sydney Maree was the first foreign-developed distance runner to make an
impact wearing a U.S. uniform. He left South Africa to attend Villanova,
became a citizen and set U.S. records in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters in the
1980s.

Now there might be more, if not as significant, foreign-born runners on the
U.S. distance scene in addition to marathon world-recordholder Khalid
Khannouchi, who was born in Morocco and became a citizen Tuesday.

Several members of the Olympic team could be foreign-born, with former
Mexicans Alfredo Vigueras and Marco Ochoa expected to be contenders in
Sunday's Olympic men's marathon trials in Pittsburgh.

Meb Keflezighi (Eritrea), Abdi Abdirahman (Somalia) and Phillimon Hanneck
(Zimbabwe) are candidates to make the team at 5,000 and/or 10,000 meters at
the July track and field trials in Sacramento.

The USA has been absent from the top of the world lists in middle-distance
and distance events in recent years. Will the country that produced 1972
Olympic champ Frank Shorter rely on foreign-born athletes to stock its
distance roster?

''I think it could become a trend,'' says David Morris, a favorite Sunday
who trained the last three years in Japan. ''Our culture and lifestyle is
not conducive to distance running. People don't want to work hard at running
and make a long-term commitment.

''People from less fortunate countries can come over here, run hard, make a
lot of money and also make a national team.''

Marty Liquori, the last U.S. runner to be ranked No. 1 in the world in the
1,500, in 1969 and '71, thinks that as more foreign-born runners make
national teams, U.S.-born runners have less incentive to do the necessary
training to become world-class.

Bob Kennedy, ranked No. 1 in the USA eight times in the 5,000, believes the
foreign delegation can boost other U.S. runners. ''There are a lot of
native-born Americans who I think will rise to the occasion,'' he says


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