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Hicham El Guerrouj

Hicham El Guerrouj

Hicham El Guerrouj was a Moroccan professional middle distance runner but is now retired. He is well known for winning the Olympics gold medal twice, as well as holding the records for the 1500 metre distance, one mile distance, and the 2000 metre outdoor distance.

El Guerrouj’s first major international achievement was when he was just 18 years old at the 192 Junior World Championships in Seoul, where he came 3rd in the 5000 metre race. He became most famous from around 1994. In that year, he raced as part of a team of Moroccan runners for the IAAF World Road Relay Championships. The team won the race, and broke the world record.

He came close to smashing another record in 1995 when he ran in the World Championships held in Gothenburg. He completed the 1500 metre distance in 2nd place. Then the following year in Stockholm, he set a new personal best in the 1500 metre race with an impressive time of 3:29.59. By this time his talents were clear to the spectators and so he was in the top bunch of favourites with the bookmakers for the Atlanta Olympics to win gold.

In 1996 El Guerrouj ran in the finals for the 1500 metre races at the Olympics held in Atlanta. While running, he fell down at 1100 metres and ended up finishing in 12th position, which was a disappointment to many. The following month, he participated in the 1500 metre race at the Milan Grand Prix final, where he became the first runner in 4 years to beat rival Morceli. From 1999 to 2003 El Guerrouj won 4 world titles one after the other, making him the top runner in his field of middle distance running.

At the beginning of 1997 El Guerrouj set not one but two world records for indoor running at the Sparkassen Cup and later the Indoor Flanders Meeting. A year later he ran another 1500 metre race in Rome where he broke the record held by Morceli with a time of 3:26.00. This was just under 1.5 seconds faster, which was quite an achievement. Of course, El Guerrouj entered into the 2000 Sydnet Olympics where he came 2nd winning silver in the 1500 metre race. In the 2001 World Championships he kept his title, and almost broke his own record with a time of 3:26.12. That same year he ran in the IAAF Golden League and won the prize for coming top. He once again came top in the IAAF Golden League in 2002. He ran again in the World Championships in 2003 and again kept a hold of his title, followed by another entry into the IAAF Golden League where he for a third time consecutively won the race.

El Guerrouj took part in the 1500 metre race in Rome in 2004, but finished in 8th place. However he competed in the Athens Olympics also in 2004, where he won gold in the 1500 metre race as well as the 5000 metres.

After the Athens Olympics, El Guerrouj never again competed internationally, and announced his retirement on May 22, 2006.

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

Career Highlights

  • 2004 Athens Olympic Games – Gold (2)
  • 2000 Sydney Olympic Games – Silver
  • World Championships – Gold (’97,’99,’01,’03), Silver (’95.’03)

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