Hicham El Guerrouj

Last updated
Hichame El Guerrouj
Hicham El Guerrouj cropped.jpg
El Guerrouj in 2010
Personal information
Nationality Moroccan
Born (1974-09-14) 14 September 1974 (age 46) [1]
Berkane, Morocco [2]
Height176 cm (5 ft 9 in) [3]
Weight58 kg (128 lb) [3]
Sport Track
Event(s) 1500 metres, mile, 2000 metres, 5000 metres
Turned pro1994
Achievements and titles
World finals1995 Göteborg
1500 m Silver medal icon.svg Silver
1997 Athens
1500 m Gold medal icon.svg Gold
1999 Seville
1500 m Gold medal icon.svg Gold
2001 Edmonton
1500 m Gold medal icon.svg Gold
2003 Paris
1500 m Gold medal icon.svg Gold
5000 m Silver medal icon.svg Silver
Olympic finals 1996 Atlanta
1500 m, 12th
2000 Sydney
1500 m Silver medal icon.svg Silver
2004 Athens
1500 m Gold medal icon.svg Gold
5000 m Gold medal icon.svg Gold
Personal best(s) 1500 m : 3:26.00 (WR) [4]
Mile : 3:43.13 (WR) [4]
Indoor 1500 m: 3:31.18 [4]
Indoor Mile : 3:48.45 [4]
2000 m : 4:44.79 (WR) [4]
3000 m : 7:23.09 [4]
5000 m : 12:50.24 [4]

Hicham El Guerrouj (Arabic: هشام الݣروج, Hishāmu l-Karrūj; Berber: Hisham El Gerruj, ⵀⵉⵛⴰⵎ ⴻⵍ ⴳⴻⵔⵔⵓⵊ; born 14 September 1974) is a retired Moroccan middle-distance runner. El Guerrouj is the current world record holder of the outdoor 1500 metres, mile, and 2000 metres events. He also held indoor world records for the mile and 1500 metres until 2019, and is the only man since Paavo Nurmi to earn a gold medal in both the 1500 metres and 5000 metres at the same Olympic Games. He has also won the world championship in the 1500 meters four consecutive times in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003.


El Guerrouj holds 7 of the fastest 10 times ever run in the 1500 metres and in the mile. [5] [6] He is considered by many to be the greatest middle-distance runner of all time. [7] [8] In November 2014, he was inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Hall of Fame. [9]

Early career

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. A year later, he was the #2 man on the Moroccan team at the World Junior Cross Country Championships.

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. [10]

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 in the 1500 metres of 3:29.59 in Stockholm, he was considered one of the favourites for the Olympic gold.

1996 Atlanta Olympics – 1999 season

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, [11] 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. [12] [13]

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. [14] In the following years, El Guerrouj became the only middle distance runner to win four consecutive world titles in 1997, [15] 1999, [16] 2001, and 2003. [17]

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, which was not beaten until 22 years later, in 2019 by Samuel Tefera. He also set 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. [18] [19] [20]

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. [21]

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

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. [22] [23] [24]

El Guerrouj successfully 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 US$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, which is the 16th fastest ever in the event. 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

El Guerrouj and Carlos Garcia at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens Carlos ga...jpg
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 both the 1500 metres and the 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 beat Lagat by 0.12 seconds, winning the gold medal. In the finale, entering the home straight El Guerrouj led, only to be overtaken by Lagat- and then El Guerrouj re-took the lead a few strides from the line. [25]

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. [26]

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. [27] [28]

Awards and honors

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. [29]

He was a member of the International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission from 2004 to 2012.

Hicham El Guerrouj is today an Ambassador for Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization, [30] 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.

International competitions

Representing Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco
1992 World Junior Championships Seoul, South Korea 3rd5000 m13:46.79
1995 World Indoor Championships Barcelona, Spain1st1500 m3:44.54
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden2nd1500 m3:35.28
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States12th1500 m3:40.75
1997 World Indoor Championships Paris, France1st1500 m3:35.31
World Championships Athens, Greece1st1500 m3:35.83
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain1st1500 m3:27.65 CR
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia2nd1500 m3:32.32
2001 World Indoor Championships Lisbon, Portugal1st3000 m7:37.74
World Championships Edmonton, Canada1st1500 m3:30.68
2003 World Championships Paris, France1st1500 m3:31.77
2nd5000 m12:52.83
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece1st1500 m3:34.18
1st5000 m13:14.39

IAAF Grand Prix performances

Personal bests

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

800 metres 1:47.182 June 1995 Torino
1000 metres 2:16.8512 July 1995 Nice
1500 metres WR 3:26.0014 July 1998 Rome
Indoor 1500 metres3:31.182 February 1997 Stuttgart
Mile WR 3:43.137 July 1999Rome
Indoor mile3:48.4512 February 1997 Ghent
2000 metres WR4:44.797 September 1997 Berlin
3000 metres 7:23.093 September 1999 Brussels
Indoor 3000 metres7:33.7323 February 2003 Liévin
Indoor 2 miles 8:06.6123 February 2003Liévin
5000 metres 12:50.2412 March 2003 Ostrava
Ekiden 1:57:5617 April 1994 Litochoro


See also

References and notes

  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. Archived from the original on 6 December 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Hicham El Guerrouj". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Hicham EL GUERROUJ - Athlete Profile". IAAF .
  5. "All-time men's best 1500 m". IAAF. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  6. "All-time best senior outdoor one mile men". IAAF.
  7. "IAAF: El Guerrouj: the greatest of all time". iaaf.org.
  8. "El Guerrouj confirms his retirement". The Irish Times.
  9. "IAAF: Twelve athletics legends inducted into IAAF Hall of Fame". iaaf.org.
  10. "untitled". www.arrs.run.
  11. "Atlanta Olympics 1996 - Men's 1500m". 14 November 2006 via YouTube.
  12. 1996 Atlanta Olympics sporting-heroes.net: El Guerrouj fell to the ground
  13. 1996 Atlanta Olympics YouTube video: Atlanta Olympics 1996 - Men's 1500m final
  14. "Marco Veledíaz - Training of the Maroccan World Class Athletes". Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  15. YouTube video 1500m final - 1997 World Championships
  16. YouTube video 1500m final - 1999 World Championships
  17. YouTube video 1500m final - 2003 World Championships
  18. YouTube video: Hicham El Guerrouj sets a new world record at 1500m in 1998
  19. "IAAF: 60 Metres". iaaf.org.
  20. World Record progression of men 1500m Archived 2013-07-30 at the Wayback Machine
  21. YouTube video: Hicham El Guerrouj sets a world record in the mile in 1999
  22. 2000 Sydney Olympics YouTube video: Men's 1500m
  23. El Guerrouj, a picture of despair, The Guardian, 30 Sep 2000
  24. Noah Ngeny - Kenya - Olympic gold at 1500 metres, sporting-heroes.net
  25. 2004 Athens Olympics YouTube video: Men's 1500m final
  26. 2004 Athens Olympics YouTube video: Men's 5000m final
  27. El Guerrouj retires from track - cbc.ca
  28. King of Middle Distance, Hicham El Guerrouj retires - IAAF
  29. Thousands of asturian children of all ages to join Hicham El Guerrouj in a race for peace Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine - fundacionprincipedeasturias.org
  30. "Peace and Sport". www.peace-sport.org.
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

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