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Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Ones to watch - Hicham El Guerrouj
Hicham El Guerrouj
Born: 14 September 1974
Events: 1500m, 5000m
Personal best:
1500m - 3:26.00mins (WR)
5,000m - 12:50.24mins
World Athletics medals:
2001 - 1500m gold
1999 - 1500m gold
1997 - 1500m gold
1995 - 1500m silver
Other achievements:
2000 Olympics - 1500m silver
Main rivals: Mehdi Baala, Stephen Cherono

There is no doubt Hicham El Guerrouj is a middle distance legend and, to millions of Morroccans, the biggest thing since couscous.

The 28-year-old has won three consecutive world titles and holds the world record at 1500m, 2000m and the mile.

El Guerrouj first emerged as a top international runner in the mid-nineties, taking silver at his first World Championships in 1995.

The following year, an unfortunate fall in the final at Atlanta denied him an Olympic medal, but in 1997 he clinched his first 1500m world title.

Less than 12 months later, the Moroccan star broke the 1500m world record in Rome in a time of 3:26.00 and in 1999 he went on to smash the mile record (3:43.13) and 2,000m mark (4:44.79), as well as claim his second world title.

Despite being the pre-race favourite at the Olympics in Sydney, El Guerrouj had to settle for silver behind Kenyan Noah Ngeny, but a year later at Edmonton, he managed an historic third world title.

After remaining the dominant force in the 1500m last season, the athlete from Berkhane has decided to move up to 5,000m with impressive results.

Did you know? El Guerrouj became interested in racing as a child after being inspired by countryman Said Aouita's win in the 5,000m during the 1984 Olympics.



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