Fermín Cacho, from nap to gold

He slept soundly. It was a nap of more than two hours. Someone asked: «Where is Fermín? He will not miss the time of the final. To some federation it seemed inconceivable that he was in his room sleeping like a child before the most important race of his life. But those closest to him knew that Ágreda’s young man was like that.

Fermin Cacho He arrived in plenty of time at the Montjuic Olympic stadium. He went up to the stands to take a look and told his coach: “I’m going to be an Olympic champion.” He warmed up as always. He put on the Barça shirt – this time it couldn’t be called ‘the red one’ because blue dominated – with the capicúa number 404. He put on new shoes, as he always did in the finals. Quiet in the call room, he looked at his rivals, among whom the Algerian Morceli He was the true leader. “No problem, everyone has two legs like me,” he must have thought.

Surprisingly, Spain had not had any athlete in 1,500 meters in the previous Games, in Seoul in 1988, after the bronze of Jose Manuel Abascal in Los Angeles 1984 and the silver José Luis González at the 1987 World Cup in Rome. In Barcelona it could not be repeated. Three good middle distance runners participated: Cacho, González and Pancorbo.

Bunch he had easily won the first round. In the semifinal he was second after the Qatari Suleiman, in the fastest of the Olympic Games, with 3:34.77. And thus came the big event on August 8th. In the press gallery we commented that Fermín Cacho could achieve a bronze; the most optimistic even thought about silver. But the gold had an unquestionable owner, Noureddine Morceli, who the previous year had won the indoor (Seville) and outdoor (Tokyo) world titles, although shortly before Barcelona he suffered an injury and suffered two defeats in the rallies of Rome and Oslo. Cacho respected Morceli a lot, but he kept telling himself that he was not going to go through what happened the previous year at the World Cup in Tokyo, where his strategy was not good and he could only finish fifth. “In Barcelona I have to run in a different way,” he declared on the eve of the Games.

Is it worth recounting the race seen a thousand times? We will only remember that Cacho came out hugging the curb, in the area of ​​street one, and He surprised everyone by sneaking in from that same area from the inside with 200 meters to go just when the German Herold seemed to challenge the African Chesire to finish off in a tremendous final stretch. “He’s going to win, he’s going to win,” the journalists standing in the press gallery repeated. And won.

It was a very slow race. For the statisticians: Kenya’s Chesire passed the 400 meters in 1:02.25 and the 800 meters in 2:06.83, slower than the girls in their final. But the last lap was explosive, Cacho clocked 50.4 and ran the stretch from the 200 to the final 100 meters in 12.1, an outrage.

Fermín Cacho was already a hero at 23 years old after surely achieving the most impressive medal of the 22 that Spain obtained. A spontaneous guy from Soria, who got stuck in his statements, but it was all true. A champion surpassed by protocol who did not know if he should shake hands with the Kings or bow when he went up to greet them on the platform, even though Ágreda – “the town of the three cultures” – knows a lot about weddings real. But that is history and Cacho is from Aggression today and now, although now moved to Andalusian lands.

Olympic gold and much more

Those who think that Cacho is Barcelona and nothing more are wrong. His enormous quality is reflected in a formidable record, because four years later he won the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games, behind Morceli who seemed enraged after his defeat in Montjuic and who had added three world records and forty races. without losing. Cacho was European champion in Helsinki (1994), twice silver in the World Cups in Stuttgart (1993) and Athens (1997). and he left for posterity a 1,500 meter mark of 3:28.95 achieved in Zurich, which turns 20 this month. A formidable time that has long been a European record and that continues to be the best of an athlete born in the Old Continent, because the record was taken from him in 2013 by the British-Somali Mo Farah.

Now, at 48 years old, Fermín Cacho is a happy man in Andújar, surrounded by his wives, his wife, who is from the city of Jaen, and his four daughters. He made his first steps in politics in the PSOE of Andújar, but his activity focuses on agriculture.

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