Morceli's 2000 Season - Reports
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Noureddine Morceli - 2000 Season Reports

Report List: 
  Report: The End of a Champion (Le Matin)
  Report: Morceli changes events ahead of Olympics
  Report: Morceli denies reports of retirement
  Report: Syndey Qualifying Heats 1500
  Report: Morceli Tumbles out of 1500m
  Report: Morceli Bumped Out of Final

The End of a Champion

late 1999 (roughly translated from French)
Noureddine Morceli: He who has given us so much joy began to withdraw his reverence in Seville...Sad end of a run.

The end of a champion

Insupportable scene for Algerian telespectators that night in Seville: Noureddine Morceli abandonning in mid-race the 1500m final of the world championships of athletics. Their champion was tired. The end of his reign? Perhaps a banal end to the career of an athlete who had marked the world of track with his imprint throughout seven years and regenerated the prestige of Algeria. Why then are champions never immortal? And where to find another Morceli? Our king has been dethroned by the the Morroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, new ruler of the 1500 meters since his victory in the world championships at Athens (1997). Since then, the child of Berkane has not lost and amuses himself by destroying our dreams piece by piece: he knocks down Morceli's records one after another. His record in the indoor 1500m with a time of 3:31 against the 3:34 of Morceli has made certain experts predict that El Guerrouj can achieve 3:25 outdoors. It is 3:26.00 for the moment. And one knows already that nothing will remain of the performances of Morceli. He can no longer worry El Guerrouj or even return to his own highest level. One is left to hope only that he is among the potential medallists. The president of the Algerian athletic federation himself has avoided interring the son of Tenes too quickly: "From now on, the goal of the federation is to place four or five finalists even if we think that Morceli can still mount the medal stand." We regained hope after a second place obtained at the Paris meet in a time of 3:30.91. Alas! It was only an illusion.

The first world title
We are left with the nostalgia of past pride: September 2, 1991, Algerians had all eyes on Tokyo, capital of the rising son. Early in the morning, all Algerians awaited the 1500m final before their little screens. Among the stars of the event, Said Aouita, holder of the world record, and a young Algerian native of Tenes only 21 years old. From the starting gun, Morceli showed good form and a real disposition to sieze the gold medal. He latched onto the front of the pack until the last lap. He made a thunderous acceleration that even Aouita could not follow. Thus he offered to Algeria the first world title in completing the fastest last 300 meters in the history of the 1500m in 39 seconds. Unable to digest this defeat, the great Aouita headed straight to the locker room. A beautiful story begins for Morceli. He dominates the tracks and wins all of the meets, keeping his world title in Stuttgart and Goteborg. Nothing remains for him but an Olympic title to inscribe his name in the rolls of gods of the track. The defeat conceded at Barcelona sticks in his craw. Flash to Atlanta. On Sunday, August 4, 1996, Morrocco succeeds in placing in the final a young athlete for whom a good future was foreseen. He is 22 years old. He is named Hicham El Guerrouj. Noureddine succeeds in winning the race in 3:35.78 despite a light leg wound caused by the spikes of his competitor and takes the Olympic title.

The end on a reign
Leaving the Olympics tired and injured, Morceli takes a break. Hicham El Guerrouj makes the most of his talent in the meets. He is the worthy successor to Aouita. He takes his first world title at Athens, while Morceli was in open conflict with the federation over a matter of equipment (the Fila affair) and affected by the death of his brother. The El Guerrouj era begins with the end of the reign of Morceli. He knocks down Morceli's records. Thus is athletics done. Records are made to be broken, say the experts. Morceli suffers a cutting defeat at Seville, abandons and heads for the locker room, like Aouita in 1991. Morceli finishes his career at 29, at the age where Aouita began to break records, en breaking the mythical 13 minute barrier for 5000m, 7:30 for 3000m, and 3:30 for 1500m. Some reproach Morceli for not having known to care for his career, by training alone, while he often benefitted from an envelope (?) courtesy of the public powers for his preparation in the team program-contract [I can't quite make sense of this part]. All the more, his high level demanded a specific program, executed in detail under the guidance of a specialist, as he had at the beginning with his American coach.

Whatever the causes, Morceli's page has turned and the 1500 remains a Maghrebian property. One must ask if the rebirth is really assured. For, long buoyed by the the exploits of the master and the queen of track, Morceli and Boulmerka, one quickly forgot that glory is ephemeral and supremacy can not last forever. Today, one speaks of the rise of Baya Rahouli in the triple jump, of Abderrahmane Hammad in the high jump, and of Said Guerni in the 800m, the very same who just yesterday gave us a bronze medal. In Algeria, it costs nothing to look to the future.

translated by Jason Michael Blank ( using an online translator. Original text from: Le Matin of Algeria.

Morceli changes events ahead of Olympics

June 2000
Noureddine Morceli has announced he plans to compete in the 5,000m at the Olympic Games in September, turning his back on the 1,500m at which he won gold in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.

Algeria's sportsman of the century is also a three time world champion at 1,500m, and has held numerous indoor and outdoor world records.

Morceli now feels he has nothing left to prove at the shorter distance, and plans to prolong his career by changing to the longer event. His first major competition over 5,000m will be the Olympics in Sydney, Australia in September.

The 29-year old cited examples of Britain's Steve Cram and Morocco's Said Aouita, both of whom moved from the 1,500m to longer distances towards the end of their careers.

Dispelling any thoughts of retirement, Morceli looked to the achievments of Britain's Linford Chrisitie in winning the 100m world championship at the age of 34.

Morceli has been preparing for the Sydney Olympics for several months and will continue his training in Algeria, Europe, Mexico and the United States.

The final stage of his preparation for Sydney will see Morceli compete in several Grand Prix races to get better acquainted with the new distance in terms of endurance.


Morceli denies reports of retirement

June 9, 2000
NOUREDDINE MORCELI the Olympic 1500 metres champion, was able to paraphrase Mark Twain today when he said that: "News of my retirement have been exaggerated."

The Algerian, three times winner of the IAAF world title at 1500m, has suffered a slump in form in the past couple of seasons, seeing Moroccan rival Hicham El Guerrouj succeed to his world title and his world records, but in a telephone interview from his training base in Albuquerque, New Mexico today, he assured WorldSport that he was far from giving up.

"I have not retired," Morceli said, refuting reports that had appeared in newspapers in Algeria last week.

Morceli, from Tenes, now aged 30, is considering the possibility of moving up to 5,000m for this year's Olympic Games in Sydney. With El Guerrouj and the young Kenyan, Noah Ngeny, firmly established at the head of the world rankings at 1500m, Morceli, who went unbeaten at the metric mile in 45 races between 1992 and 1996, may need to try another event if he is to win a second Olympic gold medal.

"WE WILL start racing late this year because the Games are late," said Morceli's coach, manager and brother, Abderahmane.

"It will give us a chance to see how things are, to see how it develops, whether Noureddine wants to run the 1500 or 5,000 in Sydney. We have plenty of time. Everything is still open."

The Morcelis have been training at high altitude in New Mexico for three weeks now, in a pattern that they have used successfully in past years.

They will remain there for at least another two weeks.

In common with many distance runners, they are cautious about their racing plans in such a demanding and important track season.

"Noureddine won't be running all the Golden Leagues," his brother said, "it is just too hard. He could be racing from now until October - that is too much.

"He's been training well, there are no problems with Noureddine. We'll be looking at his racing programme in the next two weeks."

- Stephen Downes,

Syndey Qualifying Heats 1500

September 25, 2000
Heat 3 The final heat runners knew a reasonable pace could give them the majority of the six fastest loser spots on offer and they duly obliged. After a 59.90 first lap by Sudan's Mohammed Yagoub, Andres Diaz (3:31.48 this year) led before Brazilian Hudson Da Souza led past 800m (1:59.02). World number two Noah Ngeny then upped the tempo through the bell, passing 1200m in 2:56.67 though 13 were still in contention. Ngeny held command through a final circuit of 54 and crossed the line in the day's fastest of 3:38.03. Chasing him hard was defending champion Nourredine Morceli (3:38.41), Diaz (3:38.54), Morocco's Berhanu Alemu and France's Driss Maazouzi (3:38.88) who took the final automatic spots. However, close behind came Jason Pyrah, who finished strongly (3:38.94) to pip Holland's Marko Koers (3:39.16), Sudan's Mohammed Yagoub (3:39.52), Da Souza (3:39.70), while Andrew Graffin's 3:39.75 seemed to ensure the elimination of Chirchir from the first heat. However the referee quickly added the Kenyan to the qualifiers after the end of this heat for an unspecified reason. Five of the the thus seven fastest losers came from this third race but not Portugal's highly regarded 3:30.88 performer Rui Silva, who could only finish 13th.


Morceli Stumbles Out of 1500m

September 27, 2000
Thus far, the afternoon session of track and field on day 12 at Stadium Australia has been newsy more for mishaps, than wins.

Barely 10 minutes after American sprint legend Gail Devers crashed out of the 100m semifinals, the diminutive Noureddine Morceli stumbled out of the semifinals of the 1500m.

A sad way to go, for the runner rated the greatest middle-distance runner of all time.

Morceli, heading into the turn, was lying fifth and looking comfortable when he unaccountably stumbled, lost his momentum, and pulled up. And, in a reprise of the earlier Gail Devers incident, ambled off the track, while the others raced on for the finish line.

Morceli was in Sydney hoping for one last hurrah. Having held the 1500-meter, mile, 2000-meter 3000-meter world records in his time (the 2000m record still stands in his name), Morceli has in recent times had the mortification of being upstaged by the Moroccan Hicham el Guerrouj.

Of his favourite events, only the 1500m is an Olympic event, and Morceli was the defending gold medallist, having beaten El Guerrouj after the Moroccan tripped during the final lap. Morceli thus became the first Algerian to win gold.

El Guerrouj -- who easily won his own heat in the event today in 3:37.61-- has in fact been a bit of a nemisis for Morceli, whose record over the mile lasted six years before being broken by the Moroccan last year. A year earlier, El Guerrouj broke Morceli's 1500-meter world record.


Morceli Bumped Out of Final

September 27, 2000
Nourredine Morceli was bumped out of the Olympic 1,500meters semi-final here on Wednesday when he was clipped and thrown off his stride.

Morceli pulled up 80 meters from the end and could only watch in despair as Noah Ngeny ran home to win the race.

"Obviously I was spiked," said Morceli, who announced it had been his last 1,500m race. "I am depressed as I did not come here just to run. I came expecting a medal."

"This was my last 1,500m ever. Next year I am going to go for the 5,000m and if that does not work out then I will retire," he said.

It was a bitter blow for the Algerian who has been plagued by health problems over the past 12 months.

It was only his second race since the world championships in Seville - the first being his first round race on Monday.

"I've had stomach problems, and a right hamstring problem and have only been able to train for seven weeks," he said after the first round.

But he was confident that he would at least finish on the podium.

Instead the former 1,500m world record holder was left thinking about what might have been.


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Last modified: February 5, 2001