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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK
El Guerrouj can become legend
Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport

We expected Hicham El Guerrouj to win the 1500m, and he did. But what more does that tell us about the man?

For starters he now has five World golds, something only Haile Gebrselassie and Michael Johnson can match.

But I think he needs something else to turn him from one of the greatest 1500m the world has seen into one of the greatest athletes in history.

Who do I fancy to win the 5000m? I'm leaning towards Bekele, but El Guerrouj is in great nick and he won't be far away.
Steve Cram

Many 1500m legends have won medals in the 800m as well. What El Guerrouj has decided to do is to go for the 5000m and that too would secure his status for all time.

That's his choice. Of course, he still doesn't have an Olympic gold to his name, and if I were him that's the one I'd be going for above all else.

I don't think he is quite the athlete he used to be. He's still a wonderful runner, for sure but maybe at 98% of his old self.

He now has to use his strength rather than his outright speed to win races.

We saw on Wednesday night that he put in a concerted push, running the last 800m in 1min 50secs, and that sucked in all the others.

He knew he had a weapon there that the others couldn't handle. Mehdi Baala is as good as anyone else around and there was no way he was going to catch the Moroccan.

The 5,000m now becomes one of the most mouth-watering races I can remember.

It's almost the perfect confrontation: El Guerrouj, the winner of the 1500m, up against Kenenisa Bekele, the new 10,000m world champion.

Hicham El Guerrouj
El Guerrouj has won five golds

If we could only have The Artist Formerly Known As Stephen Cherono, Saif Saaeed Shaheen, in there as well, we'd be in heaven.

Shaheen beat El Guerrouj over 5000m earlier this season and would be a real danger, even bearing in mind that crazy way he won the 3,000m steeplechase on Tuesday.

Who do I fancy to win it? That's a real toughie. I'm leaning towards Bekele, but El Guerrouj is in great nick and he won't be far away.

Bekele has such great pace at the death. That might be what makes the difference.

In the decathlon, Roman Sebrle paid the price for having two bad events on the first day.

New champion Tom Pappas didn't put a foot wrong, and his points tally proves that this was no win by default.

It just would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Sebrle had had eight or nine seconds to make up on the American in the 1500m, rather than 25.





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Ones to watch - Hicham El Guerrouj
18 Aug 03  |  World Athletics 2003


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