You’ll recognise the face and the frame, and some of you, particularly those from north London might recognise the teeshirt. But what you might ask, is Saïd Aouita doing in a Muswell Hill Runners vest? Apologies for the shadow on the shirt, but the man responsible for it and for persuading Aouita to pose in it at the beach at Agadir, managed to get his head in the way of whoever was taking the pic. But I’m eternally grateful to Rob Wright for disinterring this and sending it, because I can’t even recall it being taken or if I’ve ever seen it before.
It was taken 32 years ago this month, and we were at the end of our shoot of Arabian Knight, my TV documentary on Saïd, and Rob, who was both film editor and a pick-up cameraman on the shoot recently found it when he was moving house. Road cycling has been Rob’s bosom sport for most of his adult life, but in the wake of the big-city marathon boom, he was persuaded to augment his 50 and 100 mile weekend rides with a few miles of running shoe leather. He recently reminded me of the draconian view that I laid on him at that time, to whit, you’re not really running a marathon unless you can get round in under three hours; so he applied himself, and well into middle-age he sneaked under the bar in Paris.
As for the geezer in the Muswell Hill Runners vest, you’ll know all about him or, at least you should do. I’ve been writing about him for close to 40 years, and given that he dominated the middle distances in the wake of the eminent Brits, Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram, the Moroccan’s successes had a particular resonance in the UK. They didn’t exactly go unnoticed throughout the rest of the athletics’ world.
Rather than re-hash old pieces, I’ll just direct you (below) to an appreciation I wrote three years ago in the wake of an online debate elsewhere about who might be the GOAT – Greatest Of All Time.
Decide for yourself! – https://www.globerunner.org/02/the-greatest-of-all-time/
Aouita documentary – http://www.globerunner.org/video/