Hicham El Guerrouj

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Hicham El Guerrouj
Hicham El Guerrouj cropped.jpg
El Guerrouj in 2010
Personal information
Nationality Moroccan
Born (1974-09-14) 14 September 1974 (age 41)[1]
Berkane, Morocco[2]
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)[3]
Weight 58 kg (128 lb)
Sport Track
Event(s) 1500 metres, 2000 metres, Mile
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 1500 metres: 3:26.00[4] (WR)
Mile: 3:43.13[4] (WR)

Hicham El Guerrouj (Moroccan Arabic: هشام الݣروج, Berber: Hicam El Gerruj, ⵀⵉⵛⴰⵎ ⴻⵍ ⴳⴻⵔⵔⵓⵊ; born 14 September 1974) is a Moroccan former middle-distance runner. He is the current holder of the 1500 metres, mile and outdoor 2000 metres world records, as well as a double Olympic gold medalist.

From about 1995 until his retirement from serious competition following the 2004 Olympics, he was the dominant middle distance runner of his day. Often referred to as the "King of the Mile", many[5] consider him to be the greatest middle distance runner of all time. In November 2014 he was inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Hall of Fame.[6]

Early career[edit]

Born in Berkane, Hicham El Guerrouj's first international triumph was at age 18, when he was third in the 5000 metres of the 1992 Junior World Championships in Seoul, behind Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia and Ismael Kirui of Kenya.

In 1994, he was a member of the Moroccan team in the 1994 IAAF World Road Relay Championships, which won the race in world record time.[7]

El Guerrouj rose to international prominence in the mid-1990s with near-record times in the 1500 metres and mile. At the age of 20 he finished second in the 1500 metres to then world record holder Noureddine Morceli at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg. In 1996 after setting a new personal best over 1500 metres in 3:29.59 in Stockholm, he was considered one of the favourites for the Olympic gold.

1996 Atlanta Olympics – 1999 season[edit]

El Guerrouj competed in his first Olympic Games in 1996 at Atlanta. Running the 1500 metres final, as he was moving into position to challenge for the lead,[8] he fell with 400 m to go and finished last in 12th place. He had been expected to challenge the world record holder and three-time World champion, Noureddine Morceli.[9][10]

One month later, at the Grand Prix final in Milan, El Guerrouj became the first runner to defeat Morceli over 1500 m in four years.[11] In the following years, El Guerrouj became the only middle distance runner to win four consecutive world titles in 1997,[12] 1999,[13] 2001, and 2003.[14]

El Guerrouj set two world indoor records at the start of the 1997 season, starting with a 1500 m record of 3:31.18 at the Sparkassen Cup and setting a new indoor best of 3:48.45 in the mile run at the Indoor Flanders meeting a few weeks later. In 1998 in Rome, El Guerrouj broke Morceli's 1500 m world record (3:27.37) with a time of 3:26.00.[15][16][17]

In 1999, also in Rome, El Guerrouj broke the world record in the mile set by Noureddine Morceli in 1993, with a time of 3:43.13. Noah Ngeny of Kenya, who ran second, was also under the previous world record with a time of 3:43.40. This was the first time in over 40 years that two men had bettered the mile world record in the same race.[18]

Later that season he set a new world record over 2000 m in Berlin at 4:44.79, bettering the previous mark set by Morceli by more than three seconds. He also ran the second fastest 3000 m ever in Brussels.

2000 Sydney Olympics – 2003 season[edit]

At the Sydney Olympics, El Guerrouj was favourite to take gold but finished second in the 1500 metres, behind Noah Ngeny, a talented Kenyan runner at the peak of his career who had run as El Guerrouj's pacemaker when El Guerrouj ran his 1500m world record in Rome in 1998.[19][20][21][22]

El Guerrouj defended his 1500 m title in the 2001 and 2003 World Championships and came close to breaking his own 1500 m record in Brussels in 2001 with a time of 3:26.12. He also won 3 consecutive IAAF Golden League prizes in 2001, 2002 and 2003. He was the only middle distance athlete to produce the winning 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). He remains the only athlete to have won it three times in a row.[citation needed]

In 2003, El Guerrouj set a personal best of 12:50.24 in the 5000 metres. Later in the year, at the World Track & Field Championships, he finished a close second to Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge in the 5000 metres, adding a silver to the gold he had previously won in the 1500 metres.

2004 Athens Olympics and retirement[edit]

El Guerrouj and Carlos García at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens

After a relatively poor start to the 2004 season that included slow times and an 8th-place finish in a 1500-metre race in Rome, El Guerrouj entered in both the 1500 metres and 5000 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Only 20 days before the Olympic final, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Bernard Lagat ran the fastest 1500 m in 2004 (3:27.40), narrowly defeating El Guerrouj (3:27.64) at the Weltklasse Zürich meet on August 6. On August 24, in the final straight of the Olympic 1500m final, El Guerrouj narrowly beat Lagat by 0.12 seconds, winning the gold medal. In a thrilling finale, entering the home straight El Guerrouj led, only to be overtaken by Lagat- and then El Guerrouj re-took the lead only a few strides from the line.[23]

Four days later El Guerrouj won the 5,000 m final with a time of 13:14.39 preventing Kenenisa Bekele from achieving the 5000 m/10000 m distance double, last achieved by Ethiopian Miruts Yifter in 1980 Moscow Olympics.[24]

El Guerrouj became the first man in 80 years to win both 1500m and 5000m titles in the same Olympics, previously achieved only by the "Flying Finn" Paavo Nurmi in 1924.

Having fulfilled his sporting ambitions El Guerrouj never competed internationally again, and announced his retirement on May 22, 2006.[25][26]

Awards and honours[edit]

His sporting career is marked by numerous 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 Goodwill Ambassador. El Guerrouj was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2003 after remaining unbeaten in more than 20 races, becoming the first man to win the award in consecutive years. He was also named best athlete of the year by the athletics journal Track and Field News in 2002. In 2003, he 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.[27]

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

Hicham El Guerrouj is today an Ambassador for Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization,[28] as well as a member of its "Champions for Peace" club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport.

Personal bests[edit]

The following table includes El Guerrouj's personal best times as published by the IAAF:[4]

Distance Mark Date Location
800 metres 1:47.18 1995-02-06
1000 metres 2:16.85 1995-07-12 Nice
1500 metres WR 3:26.00 1998-07-14 Rome
Mile WR 3:43.13 1999-07-07 Rome
2000 metres WR 4:44.79 1999-09-07 Berlin
3000 metres 7:23.09 1999-09-03 Brussels
5000 metres 12:50.24 2003-03-12 Ostrava

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1995 World Indoor Championships Barcelona, Spain 1st 1500 m 3:44.54
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 2nd 1500 m 3:35.28
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 12th 1500 m 3:40.75
1997 World Indoor Championships Paris, France 1st 1500 m 3:35.31
World Championships Athens, Greece 1st 1500 m 3:35.83
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain 1st 1500 m 3:27.65 CR
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 2nd 1500 m 3:32.32
2001 World Indoor Championships Lisbon, Portugal 1st 3000 m 7:37.74
World Championships Edmonton, Canada 1st 1500 m 3:30.68
2003 World Championships Paris, France 1st 1500 m 3:31.77
2nd 5000 m 12:52.83
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece 1st 1500 m 3:34.18
1st 5000 m 13:14.39

IAAF Grand Prix performances[edit]

Other world records[edit]

Competition Ranking Timing Place Date Title
Grand Prix 1 3:43.13 Rome July 7, 1999 World record holder
Grand Prix 1 3:48.45 Gand February 12, 1997 Indoor World record holder
2000 metres
Competition Ranking Timing Place Date Title
Grand Prix Final 1 4:44.79 Berlin September 7, 1999 World record holder

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Hicham El Guerrouj". iaaf.org. International Association of Athletics Federations. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Hicham El Guerrouj". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Hicham El Guerrouj". sports.espn.go.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c IAAF. "Athlete profile for Hicham El Guerrouj". 
  5. ^ [1] Longman, Jere. The New York Times. King of the Mile. 4 May 2000
  6. ^ http://www.iaaf.org/news/iaaf-news/hall-of-fame-2014-inductees
  7. ^ result
  8. ^ 1996 Olympic 1500 final
  9. ^ 1996 Atlanta Olympics sporting-heroes.net: El Guerrouj fell to the ground
  10. ^ 1996 Atlanta Olympics YouTube video: Atlanta Olympics 1996 - Men's 1500m final
  11. ^ "Marco Veledíaz - Training of the Maroccan World Class Athletes". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  12. ^ YouTube video 1500m final - 1997 World Championships
  13. ^ YouTube video 1500m final - 1999 World Championships
  14. ^ YouTube video 1500m final - 2003 World Championships
  15. ^ YouTube video: Hicham El Guerrouj sets a new world record at 1500m in 1998
  16. ^ World Outdoor Lists 1500 Metres All Time MEN
  17. ^ World Record progression of men 1500m
  18. ^ YouTube video: Hicham El Guerrouj sets a world record in the mile in 1999
  19. ^ 2000 Sydney Olympics YouTube video: Men's 1500m
  20. ^ 2000 Sydney Olympics Guardian: El Guerrouj, a picture of despair
  21. ^ 2000 Sydney Olympics sporting-heroes.net: Noah Ngeny Olympic gold at 1500 metres
  22. ^ 2000 Sydney Olympics sporting-heroes.net: El Guerrouj 'Only' the silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
  23. ^ 2004 Athens Olympics YouTube video: Men's 1500m final
  24. ^ 2004 Athens Olympics YouTube video: Men's 5000m final
  25. ^ El Guerrouj retires from track - cbc.ca
  26. ^ King of Middle Distance, Hicham El Guerrouj retires - IAAF
  27. ^ Thousands of asturian children of all ages to join Hicham El Guerrouj in a race for peace - fundacionprincipedeasturias.org
  28. ^ Peace and Sport

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Noureddine Morceli
Men's 1500 m World Record Holder
July 14, 1998 –
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Noureddine Morceli
Men's Mile World Record Holder
July 7, 1999 –
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Haile Gebrselassie
Virgilijus Alekna
Men's Track & Field News Athlete of the Year
2001, 2002
Succeeded by
Virgilijus Alekna
Félix Sánchez
Preceded by
Jan Železný
IAAF World Athlete of the Year
2001 – 2003
Succeeded by
Kenenisa Bekele
Preceded by
Michael Schumacher
L'Équipe Champion of Champions
Succeeded by
Roger Federer
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Haile Gebrselassie
Benjamin Limo
Men's 3000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Ali Saïdi-Sief
Eliud Kipchoge