Rising star of the running track Sagie Benaim will be representing Middlesex in the Under-17's UK Inter-Counties Cross-country Championships at Nottingham this weekend. Sixteen year old Sagie earned his place in this four mile race by coming second in the Middlesex championships in January, leading his club Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers to team victory. Over a rain-sodden course in Wembley, Sagie was just beaten in the final sprint for the line.
Much-travelled Sagie was born in Israel and has also lived in France, Germany and Belgium. He has been based in England for the last two years, and is currently studying for the International Baccalaureate Diploma at the Southbank International School in Central London. For the last year he has been running for Hendon-based Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, under the guidance of coach Geoffrey Williams. But Sagie also attributes much of his ability and success to his mother Mazal, a former Israeli 3000 metres, marathon and cross-country champion. Equally at home over cross-country or on the athletics track, Sagie is a hard worker in the style of Paula Radcliffe.
Sagie has been enjoying a very successful winter season. In November he became Israeli National Under-17 champion in the Eyal Cross-country race, and later spent a week training with the Israeli National squad in Tel Aviv. He also won a Gold medal in the Under-17 Southern Road Relays and came ninth in the "Lotto Cup" International Meeting in Brussels.
Sagie's cross-country programme will continue with the National Championships at Sunderland on 10th March, and then the Inter-schools Championships at Leeds two weeks later. Then in April he will begin his track season, concentrating on the 800 metres and 1500 metres. Last year, at age 15, Sagie recorded the very impressive times of 2 minutes 1 seconds for 800 metres, 4 minutes 15 seconds for 1500 metres, and 4 minutes 35 seconds for one mile. He hopes to improve those times significantly this year. In July he will compete in the Israeli Senior National Championships, and he hopes to qualify for this year's English Schools and World Youth Championships.
Looking further ahead, Sagie has many options open to him, both in the UK and in Israel, when he finishes school next year. The one thing he is certain of is that he would like to follow his mother in earning and wearing the International Athletics vest of the country of his birth, Israel.