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Gaby Issa-El-Khoury

Gaby started with Track and Field at an early age. In
1971, at 11years old, he won the Lebanese School Championship with a long jump record of 4m10 for 10-11 years old category on school. A championship called OSSU-UGSEL (University and School Sports Organization), organized by the embassy of France, more particularly by Victor Bercin.

In 1977, the war of the mountain has already began and there were no championships for several years (1975-1977). But the CAEJ (Club des Aneciens Elèves Jamhour) and the Maristes Champville, were organizing some meetings for athletes to keep them training. This day, in 30 April 1977, it was the CAEJ who has organized the meeting. At that time, Gaby was jumping 5m91, he was in youth category, but he couldn't know if he was the best long jumper at this time, because there were no Lebanese championships going on. The Lebanese Championships by category only began in 1985, when before that; there were championships for Juniors and Young men, called "Hopes". It wasn't bantam or midget or youth like today. The championships for these categories were organized by the OSSU-UGSEL.

At 16 years old, in the same year (1977), Gaby broke his knee, a terrible accident by jumping in length, so his career in Track and Field started in 1981, at 21 years old. Gaby was in Antonin's Club and trained in Baabda by his coach Reymond Naccour. And on April 25 in 1982, he broke for the first time the Lebanese record in long jump with a jump at 7m24.

In 1983, he moved to the CAEJ and he's still so far. But Daccache requires them to change their name to Blue Stars and it allowed him to open the CSJ (Club Sportif Jamhour). On 19 August 1983, he jumped 7m25 at the Arab Championship in Amman - Jordan where he was classed 5th when the 3rd, 4th and 5th have jumped 7m25! Unfortunately he was not 3rd but 5th. And in September 1983, he went to Paris after the Arab championship, due to the war of the mountain, to do his Masters in Civil Engineering. And it is in France that he beats the indoor long jump Lebanese record: 7m41. It was the 4th of February 1984.

In France, Gaby couldn't stop training, so he met two French coaches: Jacques Frerot for sprint, and Regis Prost for long jump. Regis was the French national coach who taught Gaby a lot, and was the one who taught him everything about long jump. He helped Gaby to jump this everlasting 7m41 indoor in 1984. Gaby describe Regis as a character who is overly generous who gives a lot for the horizontal jumps in France (long and triple jumps). As we said, Regis was the French national coach, so Gaby has the chance to practice with the French champions where he progressed a lot.

His Results allowed him to be selected for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984, at 24 years old. By the way, he is the First Lebanese jumper to participate in the Olympic Games, Jean-Claude Rabbath came after him to be the first high jumper and the second jumper to go to the Olympics. In LA, Gaby was in the same heat with Carl Lewis; more than 100 000 spectators came to watch King Carl. Gaby jumped 6m80; it wasn't the best jump for him, but certainly the best experience of his life!

After that he returned to Beyrouth and continues his training, but he didn't jump further. Gaby was supervising the athletes of CAEJ, where it's very difficult to be the athlete and the coach in the same time. But he always participated in the Lebanese Championships and won until 1995. In 1997, he participated for the last time in the Lebanese Championship, he runs the relay with his athletes and won his last title; the 4x100m relay.

Like all jumpers in Lebanon, Gaby did aslo the triple jump. His best performance is 14m00.

Gaby Issa-El-Khoury (on the left), Alice Keyrouz (in the middle) who was Gaby's athlete and today the coach of CSJ, and Marc Habib (on the right) who's still Gaby's athlete, and who broke Gaby's Long jump outdoor national record. 

Krystel Saneh for TFS
Category: Biographies | Added by: krystel (2010-08-05)
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