At the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Cacho was not considered a serious gold medal threat. But the Olympic 1500 m final was run at a very pedestrian pace, and Cacho positioned himself perfectly in the final lap, and outsprinted his rivals to win the gold medal in 3:40.12.
After a relatively lean year in 1995, Cacho was back to his best in the early part of the 1996 season, leading up to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Although Cacho was the defending Olympic 1500 m champion, the final in Atlanta was considered to be a match race between Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj, who had filled the first two places at the previous year's World Championships. Approaching the completion of the third lap, Morceli was leading from El Guerrouj, when suddenly the Moroccan tripped and fell. In taking evasive action, Cacho was forced to leap over the fallen El Guerrouj, in a manoeuvre which he later estimated had lost him 5 metres of ground to Morceli, who had commenced his final lap sprint for the finish. Cacho chased Morceli around the last lap, but was unable to catch him. In the end Morceli won by 5 metres from the second-placed Cacho.