Mo Katir chasing historic 1500m/5000m double in Budapest

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European 5000m record-holder aiming to do both that and the 1500m at the World Championships

Mo Katir is a man on a mission.

The 25-year-old Spaniard, who is an ASICS athlete, is down to run both the 1500m and 5000m at the World Championships [August 19-27].

He comes off the back of two major championship medals in the respective distances – 1500m bronze at last year’s Worlds and 5000m silver at the Europeans – and is aiming to challenge himself in Budapest.

Katir states he would be happy to “win two medals [of any colour]” in both events but understands the significance of the challenge.

To accomplish his goals, Katir will have to race in the 1500m heats on August 19, 1500m semi-finals on August 20, 1500m final on August 23, 5000m heats on August 24 and 5000m final on August 27.

Mo Katir (Albin Durand)

“My idea for Budapest is the same as always, and it is none other than trying to reach as high as possible, and obviously be at the top of the podium,” he tells AW. “The big problem is that nowadays all the rivals you have are very strong, and it’s not easy to get even a bronze medal.

“As for the distances that you are going to run, and as the training goes, it is to try to run both the 1500m and the 5000m. My idea is always to try to win, but I would be very happy if I could get two medals, and if they were gold I would be the happiest man in the world.”

Scheduling the two disciplines apart by World Athletics was done on purpose to make sure the 1500m/5000m double is possible.

Katir will have Jakob Ingebrigtsen in his sights in both distances.

The Norwegian has established himself as the one to beat across 1500m and has clocked the three fastest times of the season, including an incredible 3:27.14 he ran at last month’s Silesia Diamond League (July 16).

Katir is second on the 2023 list with the 3:28.89 he clocked at the Oslo Diamond League (June 15).

The Spaniard goes into the 5000m in scintillating form and his 12:45.01 at the recent Monaco Diamond League (July 21), was over three seconds quicker than Ingebrigtsen’s European record of 12:48.45.

It makes for a fascinating battle between two truly world class athletes.

“I train every day always thinking about what I can do, not what others do,” Katir says. My biggest rival is myself. And that’s why everyday I try to push myself more and more in my training.

“Of course I keep an eye on the evolution of my rivals, and I respect all of them a lot, and right now Jakob [Ingebrigtsen] is one of the strongest athletes in the world.”

Asked if Katir thinks the art/tactics/style of middle distance running has changed in recent years, he adds: “Yes, everything has changed a lot. In big meetings there are practically never any tactical races.

“Nowadays all the races are very strong and fast and to be able to fight against the best you must always be very strong and at a very high level. Otherwise, you’re out of the game.”

As well as breaking the European 5000m record and going ahead of Mo Farah to second on the European 1500m all-time list, Katir, back in February, also went below Daniel Komen’s 25-year-old world 3000m indoor record mark of 7:24.90.

Katir clocked 7:24.68 and finished second to current world record-holder Lamecha Girma in that historic race in Liévin.

In the process, he blew apart compatriot Adel Mechaal’s European mark of 7:30.82. Mechaal narrowly beat Katir to the recent Spanish 1500m title – a titanic battle between the pair down the final straight.

Lamecha Girma and Mo Katir (Getty)

The fact they both went sub 3:34 is a sign of the strength in depth of Spanish middle distance running. European 1500m bronze medallist Mario García Romo was a close third.

“Spain is my country, and Spain has given me everything, both to me and to my family,” Katir tells AW.

“That is why every time I compete with Spain I feel obliged to fight to the maximum to achieve the best successes for my country.

“Of course, in Spain we have great references to inspire us in other sports as well, from Miguel Induráin, Rafa Nadal, John Rahm, and of course my countryman Carlos Alcaraz. But in the end, my biggest inspiration is myself.

“I trust myself and my possibilities, and that is why I know that if I train strong and hard, sooner or later I will be able to achieve the successes I am after. Without work there is no success.”

A lot of that work has occurred at altitude. Katir manages his time between Sierra Nevada in Spain and Font-Romeu in the Pyrenees. The latter hosts ASICS’ Chojo Camp Europe, the brand’s first European pro-athlete training centre.

Mo Katir (Jordi Saragossa)

The camp allows athletes the chance to both relax and train at altitude in the Pyrenees and embodies ASICS’ slogan of a “sound mind in a sound body”.

That phrase is also pertinent as Katir is a poet and spends a lot of his down-time focusing on his creative writing.

“Without a healthy mind, and without a healthy body, it is impossible to compete at a high level,” Katir adds.

“That’s why I try to take maximum care of myself, and from time to time isolate myself in the middle of the mountain to analyse myself and think about what I’m doing well, and what I’m not.

“ASICS has worked hard in recent years to be able to get super competitive shoes, with which I feel very comfortable, and which adapt perfectly to my demands,” he says. “I am really terribly happy and grateful to them.”

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Credit TO Owner