Hicham El Guerrouj

Hicham El Guerrouj

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Hicham El Guerrouj
Height 5'9" (176 cm)
Weight 128 lbs (58 kg)
Nationality Morocco
PR 1500 - 3.26.00 (1998); 5000 - 12.50.24 (2003)
Born September 14, 1974 at Berkane, Oriental, Morocco

Hicham El Guerrouj (1974-) (هشام الكروج ) is a Moroccan former middle distance runner. He is the world record holder for the 1500 metres (3:26.00), the mile (3:43.13) and the outdoor 2000 metres (4:44.79), and a double Olympic gold medalist. He has been nicknamed "King of the Mile". [1]

Reportedly, he became interested in racing as a child after being inspired by countryman Said Aouita's win in the 5000 meters during the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Although he failed to win an Olympic title in 1996 and 2000, EL Guerrouj became the first man in 80 years to win both the 1500m and 5000m at the 2004 Summer Olympics.


Career highlights

Hicham El Guerrouj's first international triumph arrived in 1992, when he was 3rd (13:46.79) in the 5000 metres of the 1992 Junior World Championships in Seoul, losing to Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.

In 1994, he was a member of the Moroccan team in the 1994 IAAF World Road Relay Championships. He ran his 5000m leg in time of 13:43, and his Moroccan team won the race with the world record (1:57:56). [2] [3]

He rose to international prominence in the mid-1990s with near-record times in the 1500 metres and mile. At the age of only 20 he finished second over 1500 m (3:35.28) at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg behind Noureddine Morceli(3:33.73). On July 8, 1996, after setting a new personal best for1500 m of 3:29.59 in Stockholm, he was expected to win a gold medal.

1996 Atlanta Olympics

However, on August 3 at the 1996 Summer Olympics, El Guerrouj fell down on the track with 400m to go, finished 12th (3:40.75). In that race, El Guerrouj, at 22, sought to challenge the Algerian Noureddine Morceli, the world record holder at that time and three-time (1991, 1993 and 1995) World champion. He moved out of the pack, glided past Spain’s Fermin Cacho, the 1500m winner of 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and onto leading Morceli’s shoulder. But as they approached the bell, El Guerrouj’s left foot knocked against Morceli’s right foot. The Algerian stumbled but survived, while El Guerrouj was sent tumbling. He picked himself up to finish, but finished last.[4] [5]

Just one month later, in 1996 September 7, El Guerrouj became the first runner to defeat Morceli over 1500m for four years when the two met at the Grand Prix final in Milan. Thereby about four years reign of Noureddine Morceli over 1500m ended.

In the following years, El Guerrouj became the only middle distance runner to win four consecutive world titles in 1997 [6] , 1999 [7] , 2001, and 2003 [8].

At a track meet in Rome in 1998, El Guerrouj broke Morceli's 1500 m world record (3:27.37) with a new world record of 3:26.00. [9] [10] [11]

On July 7, 1999, in Rome, El Guerrouj broke the world record in the mile set by Noureddine Morceli, recording a remarkable 3:43.13 and just edging out Noah Ngeny of Kenya who recorded 3:43.40. [12]

Later in that season he set a new world record over 2000m in Berlin at 4:44.79, shattering the previous mark (set by Morceli) by more than three seconds. (This astonishing mark is the equivalent of a 3:49 for the mile plus another lap at 55 second pace.) He also ran the second fastest 3000 m ever when clocking 7:23.09 in Brussels in 1999. El Guerrouj came close to breaking his own 1500 m record in Brussels in 2001 with a time of 3:26.12. His personal best over 5000m stands at 12:50.24 (Ostrava 2003).

2000 Sydney Olympics

At the Sydney Olympics, El Guerrouj, the world record holder and two-time world champion at 1500m (in 1997 and 1999) finished second in the 1500 metres, being outkicked by Noah Ngeny. Ngeny was a Kenyan runner who ran as El Guerrouj's pacemaker when El Guerrouj made 1500m world record in Rome in 1998, and who set the current 1000m world record in 1999. [13] [14] [15] [16] Also, in 1999, Ngeny was narrowly beaten by El Guerrouj in a mile race held in Rome, in which El Guerrouj broke the world record. Ngeny's time remains to this date the second fastest mile ever run.

Despite his Sydney defeat, Hicham El Guerrouj successfully defended his 1500m title in the 2001 and 2003 World Championships.

Hicham El Guerrouj also won 3 consecutive IAAF 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 kilograms (1,608 troy ounces) of gold (2000–2002) or USD 1 million (1998–1999, 2003–present). Indeed, he is the only athlete to have won it three times in a row.

2004 Athens Olympics

He won the gold medal in both the 1500 metres and 5000 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

In the 1500m final (on Aug 24 2004), he won the gold medal (3:34.18) running a stunning 1:46 last 800 meters in the 1500 meters to outkick Bernard Lagat (3:34.30), the bronze medalist of 2000 Sydney Olympics. [17] Bernard Lagat was a Keynan runner who had run the fastest (3:27.40) 1500m in 2004 defeating El Guerrouj(3.27.64) narrowly. Lagat won this victory over El Guerrouj at the Weltklasse Zürich 2004 meet on Aug 6, 2004, about 20 days before Olympics final, and put an end to El Guerrouj's seven times winning streak in Zurich between 1996 and 2003. (Meanwhile El Guerrouj set a meeting record of 3:26.45 in 1998) [18]

Four days later, on August 28, the 1500m winner El Guerrouj beat the 10000m winner Kenenisa Bekelein the 5,000m final.[19]

This made him the first man in 80 years to win both 1500m and 5000m races in the same Olympics, since Paavo Nurmi in 1924.

After the Olympics, he never again competed internationally, watching the 2005 World Championships from the stands in Helsinki as his 1500 meter World Champion title passed to Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain. [20]

On May 22, 2006, El Guerrouj officially announced his retirement.[21] [22]

Personal bests

Distance Mark Date Location
800m 1:47.18 1995-06-02
1000m 2:16.85 1999-07-12 Nice
1500m 3:26.00 1998-07-14 Rome
Mile 3:43.13 1999-07-07 Rome
2000m 4:44.79 1999-09-07 Berlin
3000m 7:23.09 1999-09-03 Brussels
5000m 12:50.24 2003-03-12 Ostrava
  • El Guerrouj also ran an unofficial 1:42.70 for the 800 m in a time trial
  • In the 2004 Olympics 1500, El Guerrouj's closing 800 meters were 1:46.34

He received numerous awards such as the 1996 humanitarian effort award from the International Association of Athletics Federations. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. 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. Also, in 2002, he was chosen, together with the British athlete Paula Radcliffe, best athlete of the year by 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.

On September 7, 2004, El Guerrouj was decorated with the "Cordon de Commandeur" by King Mohammed VI of Morocco. In the same year, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Awards. [23]

He is a member of the International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission.


1500 m

Year (Age he turned in this year) Competition Place Date Rank Timing Notes
1995 (21) World Championship Indoor Barcelona 1995 March 11 1 3:44.54
1995 World Championships Gothenburg 1995 August 13 2 3:35.28 Noureddine Morceli(1)
1996 (22) 1996 Atlanta Olympics Atlanta 1996 August 3 12 3:40.75 (fell down)
1997 (23) Grand Prix Stuttgart 1997 February 2 1 3:31.18 WR 1500 indoor
Grand Prix Gand 1997 February 12 1 3:48.45 (mile) WR mile indoor
World Championship Indoor Paris 1997 March 8 1 3:35.31
1997 World Championships Athens 1997 August 6 1 3:35.83 Fermín Cacho(2)
1998 (24) Grand Prix Rome 1998 July 14 1 3:26.00 WR 1500m
1999 (25) Grand Prix Rome 1999 July 7 1 3:43.13 (mile) WR mile; Noah Ngeny(2)
1999 World Championships Seville 1999 August 24 1 3:27.65 Noah Ngeny(2)
Grand Prix Final Berlin 1999 September 7 1 4:44.79 (2000m) WR 2000m
2000 (26) 2000 Sydney Olympics Sydney 2000 September 29 2 3:32.32 Noah Ngeny(1)
2001 (27) World Championship Indoor Lisbon 2001 March 11 1 7:37.74 (3000m)
2001 World Championships Edmonton 2001 August 5 1 3:30.68 Bernard Lagat(2)
2003 (29) 2003 World Championships Paris 2003 July 27 1 3:31.77 Mehdi Baala(2)
2003 August 31 2 12:52.83 (5000m) Eliud Kipchoge(1)
2004 (30) 2004 Athens Olympics Athens 2004 August 24 1 3:34.18 Bernard Lagat(2)
2004 August 28 1 13:14.39 (5000m) Kenenisa Bekele(2)

See also

  • Fédération Royale Marocaine d’Athlétisme

External links

References and notes

  1. The King of the Mile - www.kingofthemile.com
  2. IAAF World Road Relay Championships result
  3. IAAF World Road Relay Championships Young Hicham el guerrouj in 1994 --- YouTube video
  4. 1996 Atlanta Olympics sporting-heroes.net: El Guerrouj fell to the ground
  5. 1996 Atlanta Olympics YouTube video: Atlanta Olympics 1996 - Men's 1500m final
  6. YouTube video 1500m final - 1997 World Championships
  7. YouTube video 1500m final - 1999 World Championships
  8. YouTube video 1500m final - 2003 World Championships
  9. YouTube video: Hicham El Guerrouj sets a new world record at 1500m in 1998
  10. World Outdoor Lists 1500 Metres All Time MEN
  11. World Record progression of men 1500m
  12. YouTube video: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvCsj7eJKKA&eurl= Hicham El Guerrouj sets a world record in the mile in 1999
  13. 2000 Sydney Olympics YouTube video: Men's 1500m
  14. 2000 Sydney Olympics Guardian: El Guerrouj, a picture of despair
  15. 2000 Sydney Olympics sporting-heroes.net: Noah Ngeny Olympic gold at 1500 metres
  16. 2000 Sydney Olympics sporting-heroes.net: El Guerrouj 'Only' the silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
  17. 2004 Athens Olympics YouTube video: Men's 1500m final
  18. 2004 Weltklasse Zurich Hicham El Guerrouj was narrowly beaten by Bernard Lagat
  19. 2004 Athens Olympics YouTube video: Men's 5000m final
  20. YouTube video 1500m final - 2005 World Championships
  21. El Guerrouj retires from track - cbc.ca
  22. King of Middle Distance, Hicham El Guerrouj retires - IAAF
  23. Thousands of asturian children of all ages to join Hicham El Guerrouj in a race for peace - fundacionprincipedeasturias.org