Noureddine MORCELI

Noureddine Morceli - Algerie - 1500m Gold at the 1996 Olympics

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 29 July 1996

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      Saturday, 28 February 1970
      Tenes, Algeria
  • Algerie

Noureddine MORCELI - Algerie - 1500m Gold at the 1996 Olympics

Noureddine Morceli had totally dominated middle distance running in the early part of the 1990s. By the end of 1995, he had won three consecutive world 1500m titles, and simultaneously held the world records for 1500m, 1 mile, 2000m and 3000m. The only jewel missing from his crown was an Olympic medal, as he had finished an uncharacteristic 7th in the 1500m at his only Olympic appearance in 1992. Morceli sought to rectify that omission in 1996, and during the early part of the season he produced a number of good performances, which included the fastest times in the world for 1500m, 1 mile, and 2000m prior to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. The only possible danger to Morceli seemed to be the emerging young Moroccan, Hicham El Guerrouj, who had finished second to Morceli at the previous year's World Championships. El Guerrouj had an equally good season as Morceli up to the end of July, but the two champions had not met head to head, and therefore, their confrontation at the Olympics was keenly anticipated. After breezing through his heat on 29 July (see photo above), Morceli won the first semi-final two days later, and the expectation of his clash with El Guerrouj was further increased when the Moroccan won the second semi-final. In the end, their clash in the final on 3 August turned into an anticlimax. Nearing the end of the third lap, Morceli was leading, with El Guerrouj tucked in behind him. Suddenly, El Guerrouj made contact with Morceli's trailing leg, tripped, and fell heavily to the ground, causing runners following to take quick, evasive action. While the other runners negotiated the prone Moroccan, Morceli started his sprint for home, opening up an unassailable lead, and continuing on to win his long awaited Olympic gold medal. (Ron Casey)