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Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Tuesday, 2 August 2005 14:12 UK

El Guerrouj reigns supreme

Golden moments
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport athletics pundit

Men's 1500m final: Seville 1999

Not since Steve Ovett threw away his spikes have we seen a middle-distance runner wave to the crowd and blow them kisses while winning a big race.

El Guerrouj was head and shoulders above everybody
Men's: MAR 3:26.00 Hicham El Guerrouj 14/7/98
Women's: CHN 3:50.46 Yunxia Qu 11/9/93
But that's exactly what Hicham El Guerrouj did in taking a 1500m he later called one of the greatest races of the century.

The presence of three Spaniards in the final, roared on by 60,000 of their compatriots, created a wonderful atmosphere.

Pre-race favourite El Guerrouj initially let fellow Moroccan Adil Kaouch lead out the field.

At the bell, Spain's former Olympic champion, Fermin Cacho gave way to his friend Reyes Estevez, who battled with Kenyan Noah Ngeny down the back straight in pursuit of El Guerrouj.

They never even got close. El Guerrouj's supremacy was so great he felt able to start his celebrations before he'd crossed the finishing line.

He took just over five seconds off Noureddine Morceli's World Championship record, recording the fifth fastest time in history.


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