Hicham El Guerrouj
Hicham El Guerrouj (born September 14, 1974, Berkane, Morocco) is a world record setting middle distance athlete and credited by some as the greatest middle-distance runner of all time as well as the "King of the Mile". He has now moved up to compete in long distance events. In the next athletics season in 2005, he plans to better Kenenisa Bekele's world record of 12min.37sec in the 5000m.
His sporting career is marked by various recognitions such as the award to humanitarian effort from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which he received in 1996. He is also A UNICEF ambassador of good will. El Guerrouj was named best athlete of the year by the IAAF in 2001 and 2002 after remaining unbeaten in more than 20 races and thus becoming the first man to win athlete of the year titles in consecutive years since the award was created in 1988. Also, in 2002, he was chosen, together with the British athlete, Paula Radcliffe, as best athlete of the year by the prestigious athletics journal Track and Field News. In 2003, he was also top of the world athletics list and was elected as a member of the IAAF Athletes Committee.
Table of contents
Hicham El Guerrouj's first international triumph arrived in 1992, when he was third in the 5.000 metres junior World Championships in Seoul. He rose to international prominence in the mid-1990s with near-record times in the 1500 meters and mile. In 1996, he finished a disappointing eighth at the Atlanta Olympics after colliding with Algeria's Nourredine Morceli, who went to win the gold medal.
El Guerrouj later made up for it by winning four consecutive world titles in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003. El Guerrouj broke the world record in the mile set by Noureddine Morceli of Algeria on July 14, 1998, recording a remarkable 3:43.13 and just edging out Noah Ngeny of Kenya who recorded 3:43.40. He lowered the record to its current 3 minutes, 43 seconds at Rome in 1999.
At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, he finished second in the 1500 meters. He won the gold medal in both the 1500 meters and 5000 meters at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, running a stunning 1:46 last 800 meters in the 1500 meters to outkick Lagat of Kenya. In the 5,000m, El Guerrouj waited behind Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele until the home straightaway where he sprinted away for a 13:14 win. He became then the first man in 80 years to win both races in the same Olympics, after the "Flying Finn" Paavo Nurmi in 1924.
Hicham El Guerrouj also won 3 consecutive Golden League prizes in 2001, 2002 and 2003. He was the only middle distance athlete to achieve the win streak necessary to be entitled for a share of the Jackpot of 50 kilos of gold. Indeed, he is the only athlete to have won it three times in a row.
Winning the Olympics double
For the past decade, Hicham El Guerrouj had been seeking an Olympic gold medal. He collided with Algeria's Nourredine Morceli, who went to win the gold medal, at the last lap in Atlanta's 1500m final before finishing 12th. Between Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, he lost only one race before he was outsprinted by Noah Ngeny of Kenya.
Justice for El Guerrouj had to be made in Athens 2004. He ended eight years of agony as he won the elusive Olympic men's 1,500 and 5,000 metres gold medals.
After winning the 1,500 metres medal, he said:
- "Its amazing to think that in Sydney I was crying tears of sadness and here I am crying tears of joy. I'm like a five year-old with a toy."
- "I felt Lagat coming again and again. At one point I thought this was Sydney all over again. He kept coming back at me like an avalanche but when Lagat closed on me for the last time I just found that extra energy."
After winning the 5,000 metres medal, making history after Paavo Nurmi of Finland did the same in 1924, he said:
- "Paavo Nurmi is a great legend. He is one of the athletes who marked history. He left his name at his point in time. Now, Im able to put my name with his. He is from another time, a time when my grandfather was watching him. To stand alongside him now, how I can I express it? There are no words."
- "Maybe I will defend my title at the World champonships next year. This year my objective was to win both races at the Olympics in Athens, which is the birthplace of the sport and my birthplace as an athlete. Next year I will move onto the next stage and try to break the 5000m world record. Who knows? Maybe I will be there in 2008 after all, racing against Bekele again at 10,000m."
|Olympic Games||1||3'34"18||Athens||24.08.2004||Gold medalist|
|World Championship||1||3'31"77||Paris||27.07.2003||World Champion|
|World Championship||1||3'30"68||Edmonton||05.08.2001||World Champion|
|Olympic Games||2||3'32"32||Sydney||29.09.2000||Silver medalist|
|World Championship||1||3'27"65||Seville||24.08.1999||World Champion|
|Grand Prix||1||3'26"00||Rome||14.07.1998||World recordman|
|World Championship||1||3'35"83||Athens||06.08.1997||World Champion|
|World Championship Indoor||1||3'35"31||Paris||08.03.1997||World Champion|
|Grand Prix||1||3'31"18||Stuttgart||02.02.1997||World recordman|
|World Championship||2||3'35"28||Gothenburg||13.08.1995||Silver medalist|
|World Championship Indoor||1||3'44"54||Barcelona||11.03.1995||World champion|
|World Championship||1||3'43"13||Rome||07.07.1999||World recordman|
|Grand Prix||1||3'48"45||Gand||12.02.1997||World recordman|
|Gran Prix Final||1||4:44.79||Berlin||07.09.1999||World recordman|
|World Championship Indoor||1||7'37"74||Lisbon||11.03.2001||World Champion|
|Olympic Games||1||13'14"39||Athens||28.08.2004||Gold medalist|
|World Championship||2||12'52"83||Paris||31.08.2003||Silver medalist|
|Olympic medalists in athletics (men) | Olympic Champions in Men's 1500 m|
Teddy Flack | Charles Bennett | Jim Lightbody (twice) | Mel Sheppard | Arnold Jackson | Albert Hill | Paavo Nurmi | Harry Larva | Luigi Beccali | Jack Lovelock | Henry Eriksson | Josy Barthel | Ron Delany | Herb Elliott | Peter Snell | Kip Keino | Pekka Vasala | John Walker | Sebastian Coe (twice) | Peter Rono | Fermín Cacho | Noureddine Morceli | Noah Ngeny | Hicham El Guerrouj
|Olympic medalists in athletics (men) | Olympic Champions in Men's 5000 m|
Hannes Kolehmainen | Joseph Guillemot | Paavo Nurmi | Ville Ritola | Lauri Lehtinen | Gunnar Höckert | Gaston Reiff | Emil Zátopek | Vladimir Kuts | Murray Halberg | Bob Schul | Mohammed Gammoudi | Lasse Virén (twice) | Muruse Yefter | Saïd Aouita | John Ngugi | Dieter Baumann | Vénuste Niyongabo | Millon Wolde | Hicham El Guerrouj