Legend Tergat honoured at FICA in Spain
Five-time world cross country champion and former 10,000m and marathon world record holder Paul Tergat was the guest of honour at the second night of the International Athletics Film Festival (FICA) in the Spanish city of San Sebastian on Tuesday.
Tergat, a winner of several cross country races in the Basque region during the second half of the 1990s when he reigned supreme in the discipline, was a popular figure in this part of Spain during his competitive career and the reception he received when he came on stage at the Teatro Principal showed that his stature had not dimmed with the local athletics fans.
Now 50, and a member of the International Olympic Committee, the Kenyan distance running icon received a Honorary Achilles Prize from the Festival organisers, following in the footsteps of Bob Beamon 12 months ago in relation to his international appeal, for his contribution to the sport.
“It’s a big honour to be recognised in this way and this honour is very special to me,” commented Tergat.
“I hope this type of event (FICA) will continue for many years. To see the film of my cross country victories, as well as my defeats on the track at the Olympics, brings it all back to me even though it was 20 years ago, and more. But it’s important to keep these memories for our children and grandchildren.
“I have competed all over the world, but I remember well the reception I always got in Spain. The people here were always very warm and welcoming,” he added, clearly delighted but humbled by accolade and the accompanying applause.
Hats Off Tergat
In addition to his trophy, Tergat was also presented with a ceremonial inscribed Basque beret – a txapela – a traditional gift in the area.
His presentation, with Tergat receiving his trophy from Spanish athletics federation president and IAAF Council Member Raul Chapado, followed a two-minute visual review of his greatest races on what was deemed ‘IAAF Day’ at the Festival.
Tergat was not the only person to pick up an Achilles trophy on Tuesday night.
Spain’s Mario Casado won the IAAF competition for U23 filmmakers with his innovative and creative short Why I Run, which depicted a male runner’s relationship with a female protagonist who is undergoing hospital treatment.
The rules of this competition stipulated that the film should be no longer than two minutes and shot on a mobile phone or tablet.
In conjunction with the fact that 2019 has been designated as the Year of Cross Country – a happy coincidence considering the presence in San Sebastian of Tergat, who has some good claims to being the greatest ever exponent of the discipline, as well as Spain’s two-time women’s world cross country champion Carmen Valero and Portugal’s former European cross country winner Paulo Guerra – also shown was Hunters, a 30-minute film with footage recorded at the World Cross Country Championships Aarhus 2019 earlier this year.