Hicham el Guerrouj was born September 14, 1974 in Berkane, Morocco. He played as a goalkeeper for his school soccer team for several years before a schoolteacher noticed how well Hicham could run and encouraged him to come to a cross country meet and compete. Hicham did well, but his running seed did not blossom until the late 1980's, when he saw his first Olympic Games and saw fellow countrymen running in the running singlet of Morocco. El Guerrouj moved to a national training center where he has placed himself on one of the strongest and most demanding training schedules for any type of runner. Through his actions, he has made himself arguably one of the best middle distance runner of all time, whether or not he captures an Olympic gold medal.

In his near decade of dominance, El Guerrouj has been able to set world records (WR) in the 1500m (3:26.00), the mile (3:43.40 and again in 3:43.13), and the 2,000m (4:49.79). He has also ran the second fastest 3,000m race in history (7:23.09). In 2001 and 2002 he was voted male Athlete of the Year at the World Athletics gala by the International Association of Athletics Federation. A more complete list of his achievements can be found below. El Guerrouj plans on running competitively through the 2004 Olympic Games, though he may move up to the 5,000m for those Games. He plans to cap out his carreer by running the NYC Marathon for fun. "I couldn't run it very fast," El Guerrouj has said. "(only) Around 2:20. It would be my last race."

At his simple home in Rabat, Guerrouj has only one item on any of his walls. It is a picture of him losing a race. In particular, it is a picture of himself coming in second place at the Atlanta Olympics. He placed it there, he says, to keep himself focused on his goal. It is intense focus on a goal, such as exhibited by El Guerrouj that makes him a hero to me. A practicing and devout Muslim who prays 5-6 times every day, El Guerrouj maintains his high level of fitness and competitiveness through ridiculously challenging double session workouts nearly year round. His passion is evident with the amount of quality miles he runs and the number of races he enters yearly, and his skill is apparent when one contemplates the sheer speed required to set some of his world records (His mile record, for instance, required four laps around a 400m track, all of which had to be finished in under 55 seconds. A remarkable hs 400m runner can finish one lap in about 52 seconds.). Hicham el Guerrouj is one of the greatest middle distance runners in the history of the sport, and it is a pleasure to watch him as he steps onto a track, and sets in place to run ever towards his goal, an illusive Olympic Gold Medal.

Achievements

2001     WC     1st     1500m
2000     OG     12th    1500m (fell and lost a shoe during final lap)
1999     WC     1st     1500m
1998     Won all 12 events he entered, mix of 1500m and mile
1997     WC     1st     1500m
1996     OG     2nd     1500m (bothered by sore Achilles for 2 weeks)
1996     GP     1st     1500m
1995     WC     2nd     1500m

www.africaexpert.org/people/profiles
www.iaaf.org
www.runnersworld.com
www.sporting-heroes.net
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

For the Quest.

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