Morceli's 1996 Season - Reports
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Noureddine Morceli - 1996 Season Reports

Report List: 
  Atlanta: Atlanta GP
  Post-Atlanta: Morceli aiming for 3:42 mile
  Villeneuve D'Ascq:  Morceli, Niyongabo Avoid Each Other
  St. Denis:  Morceli, Johnson win St. Denis
  Moscow:  Moscow GP2
  Lausanne:  Lausanne GP2
  Olympics:  Olympic 1500m Heats
  Olympics:  Olympic 1500m Semis
  Olympics:  Olympic 1500m Final (Report 1) Report2
  Brussels:  Van Damme Memorial GP2
  Milan:  Milan GP Final
  Next Year:  Morceli to Attempt Three WR's next season

Atlanta GP

Atlanta, USA - May 18, 1996 - Morceli: 3:50.86 (Mile)
Noureddine Morceli, mile winner: "With heat like this, it's very, very difficult to run well, so I'm very satisfied with my performance. This is why I came to the meet, to test the weather. The stadium is very nice, the crowd was very energetic. Steve Holman gave a good run and it was a good race."

Snooze. Morceli follows his rabbit boys through a pace of 59.0, 1:58.1. Then they drop out and he leads, with only Holman following for the last half. The pace picks up, with Morceli hitting 1320y in 2:57.2. Holman appears in position to do some damage on the last straight, but he doesn't have the wheels to match Morceli, who wins in 3:50.86, a world leader, and the fastest outdoor mile ever run in the United States. That betters Jim Ryun's 3:51.1 from 1967. (Eamonn Coghlan ran 3:49.78 indoors in 1983.) Last 440y, 53.7. Another perfectly scripted race for Morceli.

- DoItSports/USATF

Morceli aiming for 3:42 mile

Atlanta, USA - May 21, 1996
For Noureddine Morceli of Algeria, the king of middle-distance running, all that glitters is not gold. In addition to seeking the gold medal in Atlanta, Morceli also hopes to take aim at the world records in the mile and 1500. No matter that the 26-year-old Morceli currently holds both marks (3:27.37 for the 1500; 3:44.39 for the mile), he wants to shatter both in European outings immediately following the Olympic Games.

"I think I can run about 3:25 in the 1500 and 3:42 or 3:43 in the mile," stated Morceli, on hand for the Atlanta Grand Prix last weekend. If all goes as planned, Morceli will shoot for the 1500 record at Monte Carlo on August 10, then blast away at the mile mark in Zurich four days later.

But the gold, he admits, is foremost on his hit list. A strong favorite to win in the Barcelona Games, Morceli inexplicably was lured into running a tactical race and finished a dismal seventh place. Says Morceli: "I have learned from my mistakes."

Morceli has begun 1996 in impressive style running a 3:51.30 mile in Osaka, Japan, on May 11 and a 3:50.86 last Saturday at the Atlanta Grand Prix.


Morceli, Niyongabo Avoid Each Other, Both Win

Villeneuve D'Ascq, France - May 25, 1996 - Morceli: 3:32.05
VILLENEUVE D'ASCQ, France (AP) - Noureddine Morceli of Algeria ran the fastest 1,500 meters of the year Saturday, while his major challenger over the past two years, Venuste Niyongabo of Burdundi, also won a 1,500 meter race.

The two refused to race against each other, and since both had entered the 1,500 meters, the promoter split the metric mile into two sections.

Morceli, who holds the world record at the distance, won his race in 3:32.05, almost five seconds slower than his world record.

Niyongabo took his in 3:34.03.

Marie-Jose Perec of France, the Olympic and world champion over 400 meters, dropped down to the 200 and won in 22.32, the fastest time of the year.

Frankie Fredericks had an easy time in winning the 100 meters in 9.99 seconds.

- Associated Press

Morceli, Johnson Win in St.Denis

St. Denis, France - June 3, 1996 - Morceli: 3:32.47
ST. DENIS, France (AP) - World champions Noureddine Morceli and Michael Johnson won their specialities but Frankie Fredericks had the best performance of the meet at the St. Denis international meet Monday.

Fredericks, from Namibia, ran 9.95 seconds assisted by a legal wind to win the 100 meters. It was the second best time of the season behind only the sparkling 9.92 that Trinidad's Ato Boldon did in winning the U.S. collegiate championships on Saturday.

``I'm happy I'm in good shape,'' Fredericks said. ``I didn't expect to run this fast but I had a good start.

Fredericks won the 200 in 1993 when Johnson won the 400 at the world championships. Last August, Johnson took both, relegating Fredericks to second.

Over the indoor season, Fredericks set an indoor record of 19.92 in Lievin, France.

Johnson, for his part, came for a quick trip to Europe after bowing out of the Prefontaine meet in Eugene Ore., with a sore right hamstring.

Johnson won the 200 easily in 20.23 but not near his world championship time of 19.79.

Still he was content.

``My goal this year will be the 200 and 400 at the Olympics and I feel I will be successful,'' Johnson said.

It was his last race before the U.S. Olympic trials June 14-23 in Atlanta. Morceli, the three-time 1,500 meter champion, had another easy victory in his event although his time of 3:32.47 was far off his world record of 3:27.37. He holds world marks in five other indoor and outdoor events.

He had a moderately fast pace through the 400 and 800 meters in 53.71 and 1:52.5. But the challengers tailed off after that and he was alone after 1,000 meters.

Marie-Jose Perec of France, the Olympic and world 400 champion, dropped down to the 200 and won in 22.30.

- Associated Press/CollRunning

Moscow GP2

Moscow, Russia - June 7, 1996 - Morceli: 3:33.22
MOSCOW (Jun 7, 1996 - 13:29 EST) -- Algerian world champion Noureddine Morceli failed to better his own world 1,500 meters record on a windy evening at the Moscow Grand Prix on Friday.

Morceli, paced by his younger brother Ali and another compatriot Abdelkrim Benzai, clocked three minutes 33.22 seconds after taking the lead midway through the penultimate lap.

He passed the bell in two minutes 38 seconds, with the record now well out of reach, but easily held off a late challenge from Kenyan Laban Rotich in the final straight, glancing once over his shoulder and then slowing before the line.

Rotich clocked 3:33.70 in second place, nearly two seconds ahead of compatriot David Kibet.

Morceli's time was his third fastest of the year during a season at which he hopes to win his first Olympic title. It was well outside the 3:27.37 world mark he set in Nice last July.

A small crowd at the Lokomotiv Stadium, who were handed free T-shirts featuring Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the entrance, endured a rain shower early in the evening but the skies soon cleared and the temperatures rose midway through the competition.

- Nando.Net/Reuter Information Service

Lausanne GP

Lausanne, Switzerland - July 3, 1996 - Morceli: 3:30.99
1500m- Morceli, after showing good fitness in Paris, looked a bit flat, and was caught between 800-1100m. He then ran a 40+ last 300m, but did not look invincible by any means. Personally, I thought this was one of the more exciting races he's run in a while, if for no better reason than that it wasn't totally a time trial. I've started just watching the second pack in his races, pretending they're running for first. It worked for me at Gaz de France.

- Daniel Francis Lilot

Olympic 1500m Heats

Atlanta, USA - July 29, 1996 - Morceli: 3:41.95
ATLANTA (Jul 29, 1996 - 17:47 EST) -- He runs alone, like a man on a mission to right a wrong, a man determined to bring home Olympic gold.

Noureddine Morceli won his heat in the first round of the men's 1,500 meters race Monday, won it barely by half a second in 3 minutes, 41.95 seconds. John Myock of Britain was second in 3:42.31.

Morceli's time was not the fastest of the day, not even close. Sixteen others, led by Laban Rotich of Kenya, had better times. Morceli did what he needed to do, though. He advanced. He reminded the other runners that he is here and is the man they ultimately have to beat.

Monday's result did not change minds, least of all that of Joaquim Cruz of Brazil, who was eighth in Morceli's heat. He knows what Morceli has done -- a world-record 3:27.37 -- and can do.

"He revolutionized the race," Cruz said. "He broke the barrier. He made the race look easy. He made the pace possible. Three-thirty? No, now it's the 20s."

Morceli's credentials are substantial. He has won four world 1,500 meter titles, three outdoors and one indoors. Besides the 1,500 record he set a year ago, he has world records for the mile (3:44.39), the 2,000 (4:47.88) and the 3,000 (7:25.11). He has been the premier miler of the 90s, equipped with not only the fastest 1,500 in history, but the five fastest.

So where is the Olympic medal?

In 1992 at Barcelona, he got boxed in and ran a poor race in the 1,500, finishing seventh. He claims he learned from that mistake, and a year later he broke the world mile record by nearly 2 seconds -- the largest margin since 1966.

Cruz, who won a gold medal in 1984 and a silver in 1988 in the 800, advanced times in that event, forcing runners to train for more speed.

Morceli has done the same thing," Cruz said, "He's forcing other runners to change their approach, their psychological way of running. He revolutionized the 1,500 and middle distances."

Not all the 1,500 runners are in awe of Morceli. Dieudonne Kwizera of Burundi is one of those.

"He's really good," Kwizera said. "There is something I don't like, though. If you're strong, don't be scared of everybody. He shouldn't be afraid of others. Sometimes, he ducks tough competition."

That won't happen here, with the best 1500 runners assembled and Morceli determined to correct the errors of Barcelona.

- Press
Click here for more results.

Olympic 1500m Semis

Atlanta, USA - August 1, 1996 - Morceli: 3:32.88
MEN'S 1500 SEMIFINALS In heat one, Tolgyesi (HUNGARY) goes to the front early, and opens a 5-meter lead. He hits the 400 in 54.92. Tanui (KENYA), Cacho (SPAIN), Bruton (IRELAND) and Bile (SOMALIA) follow. Morceli is 6th. They hit the 800 in 1:54.06, and Tolgyesi is reeled in, though he still leads. Rotich (KENYA) has moved up on the outside. At the bell, Tanui takes the lead, followed by Cacho and Tolgyesi; the split is 2:38.2. They hit 1200 in 2:52.5. Bile and Rotich are on the outside down the back straight. Morceli takes the lead, followed into the turn by Cacho, Bile, Tanui and Rotich. Morceli takes the heat in 3:32.89 (the Olympic record is 3:32.53!). Bile looks very good. Cacho was working to keep up. Tolgyesi sets a Hungarian National Record, running 3:35.97. The top 8 are all under 3:35. It's Morceli, Cacho, Bile, Tanui, Rotich, Maazouzi (MOROCCO), Mayock (ENGLAND) and Tolgyesi. I think. Both time qualifiers come from this heat (top 5, plus 2).

In heat 2, Kipkorir (KENYA), Koers (NETHERLANDS), McMullen (USA) and Healy (IRELAND) are in front, hitting 400 in 58.7. McMullen goes to the back of the pack at 500. El Guerrouj (MOROCCO) moves up, and leads at the bell; the 1200 split is 2:54.3. Koers is struggling but hanging on. At the end it's El Guerrouj looking very relaxed in 3:35.29; Koers is gasping. McMullen never gets it going. It's El Guerrouj, Kipkorir, Hakimi (TUNISIA), Suleiman (QATAR), and Koers. McMullem is a disappointing 9th, in 3:37.61.

- Adam Chesler

Olympic 1500m Final

Atlanta, USA - August 3, 1996 - Morceli: 3:35.78
ATLANTA (Aug 3, 1996 - 23:35 EST) -- Noureddine Morceli kept his cool -- and his balance -- to win the Olympic 1,500 meters Saturday night and bolster his reputation as the best middle-distance runner ever.

The Algerian world record-holder was spiked on his right heel by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj as they entered the final lap. El Guerrouj tumbled to the track, but Morceli stayed on his feet and pulled away for his first Olympic gold medal.

Morceli, who holds six world indoor and outdoor records in distances ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 meters, hobbled into the interview room after the race and needed help taking off his right shoe. A bandage was wrapped around his gashed right foot.

"He stepped on my foot, and I saw blood coming out," the 26-year-old Morceli said. "I don't know whether he was pushed or not. It was a tactical race and accidents can happen if you're not careful."

Morceli, who finished seventh in Barcelona four years ago, said he needed an Olympic gold to make his career complete.

"Before today, I was missing something. Now I have it," said Morceli, who cried on the victory stand as he listened to the Algerian anthem.

El Guerrouj, considered Morceli's most serious challenger, got up after his spill and finished the race -- in last place.

Fermin Cacho of Spain, who won the 1,500 gold in Barcelona with a blazing last lap, said the accident prevented him from winning again. Cacho was third at the time and had to hurdle the fallen El Guerrouj, costing him precious seconds and allowing Morceli to pull away.

"I was in good position going into the last lap," Cacho said. "After the accident, I was too far behind to catch up."

Morceli has now won 54 consecutive finals in the 1,500 and mile, a streak that started in 1992. He hasn't lost at any distance since finishing third in the 800 at Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 21, 1993.

Morceli's winning time Saturday night was a modest 3:35.78, more than eight seconds slower than his world record of 3:27.37 set last year. Cacho got the silver in 3:36.40, and Stephen Kipkorir of Kenya took the bronze in 3:36.72.

"This makes me forget what happened in Barcelona," said Morceli, whose training for the 1992 games was hampered by a hip injury. "This is the greatest athletic achievement of my career."

- Associated Press/Nando.Net

Olympic 1500m Final: Morceli Wins 1500m for God and Country

Atlanta, USA - August 3, 1996 - Morceli: 3:35.78
GREAT milers seek their salvation not in their lanes, but in their lives.

The 1,500m is the most religious of races and the new Olympic champion, Algeria's Noureddine Morceli, a devout Muslim, continues the tradition of the spiritual Herb Elliott of Australia, who won in Rome in 1960, and the driven Sebastian Coe of Great Britain, who triumphed in Los Angeles in 1984.

After the race, which he won in 3min 35.78s, Morceli said: "I did this for my God, my people and my country."

Morceli has exorcised the ghost of Barcelona, when he was favourite but finished seventh.

"It was always my dream to be an Olympic champion and I have been thinking about an Olympic gold medal every day since Barcelona," Morceli said.

Repeating himself in an almost prayerful chant, he said: "Every day I have been thinking about it."

Morceli was born to run. As a child, he would carry a fishing pole to the beach near his home in Tenes, west of Algiers, plant his pole in the sand and sprint, carefree, into the distance while the fish nibbled.

On the morning of the 1,500m, he sat at the adjacent table at breakfast in our Atlanta hotel, studying the colour photos of the previous day's victors in the newspapers with almost religious solemnity.

He speaks without any embarrassment about his God, as if Allah was eating scrambled eggs with us.

Why is this milling, spiking, toe-treading race so appealing to the most monastic of men?

Is it because there was some cosmic arithmetic about the mile - four laps in four minutes - before that cool day at Oxford in 1954 when Britain's Roger Bannister broke it?

Of course, Bannister ran the race in perfect laboratory conditions.

Morceli ran it in an ugly classroom.

Bannister had the right climatic conditions, a couple of rabbits and no-one to box him in.

Morceli had to fight his way to the front in Atlanta on Saturday night like an earnest, desperate-to-impress student throwing his hand up to answer a question in any unruly, jostling classroom.

He was spiked on the heel by Hicham El Guerrouj entering the final lap and only later, while running his victory lap in the green clothes of his country, did he see blood trickling from his right foot.

Morceli, a man who observes Ramadan with devout intensity and studies the Koran daily, has obviously used the discipline of Islam in his running.

"I had 10 different tactical plans in my head before the race," he said.

He admitted he used his preferred one, saying: "When I saw the pace was slow, I knew I could kick in the last lap."

He admitted to being troubled when fellow Algerian Hassiba Boulmerka had her chances ruined when she stumbled in a semi-final of the women's 1,500m the previous evening.

Boulmerka, the gold medallist from Barcelona, missed the final, despite a furious finish which still saw her cross the tape last.

"It was on my mind," he said.

"She could have been the Olympic champion again. It was a great pity. The same thing could have happened in my race."

Journalists tried to tempt him on the ticklish situation in Algeria, but he merely said: "An athlete cannot spend his time thinking about politics."

Morceli will be in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, but revealed it may be in the 5,000m.

"I am 26 years old and it is time I must start thinking about moving to the 5,000," he said.

Morceli holds the world record in the 1,500m in 3:27.37 and his time in Atlanta was outside Coe's Olympic record of 3:32.53.

There seems no cosmic order in these figures.

He will not run 1,500m in 150 minutes but, as he knelt on the track in Atlanta in gratitude to his God, a conqueror turned supplicant, it was clear he was a worthy gold medallist in the tradition of the world's great milers.

- Sydney Morning Herald

Van Damme Memorial GP

- Brussels, BEL - August 23, 1996 - Morceli: 7:36.81 (6)
[Komen: "I still think that 5000 is my best distance. Tonight the first kilometer was far too slow to beat the record. And Morceli wasn't really giving any help."] Morceli appeared to have no snap when the others turned up the heat in the final 600m. There was no official comment on his condition.


Berlin, GER - August 30, 1996 - Morceli: 3:49.09
Morceli: "I am very satisfied with my race. You know I was ill for about three weeks and a little bit uneasy about whether I could return to my early form. Today's race showed me that I'm back. I will run the 1500 two more times this year--in Rieti and in Milan.

Milan GP Final

Milan, Italy - September 7, 1996 - Morceli: 3:39.69 (2)
There was another rare defeat for middle-distance star Noureddine Morceli, who was beaten over Brussels over 3,000 meters and this time lost at his favored distance, the 1,500, in which he is world, Olympic titlist and world record holder.

The Algerian, who had not lost a 1,500 or mile race in 55 finals since 1992, was overtaken 100 meters from home by Morocco's Hicham El Guerroudj, who won in 3:38.80 seconds. Morceli was second in 3:39.69 and lost a chance of the overall title.

"It's okay. I've dominated the 1,500 for many years," Morceli said. "Sometimes you're exhausted and don't have a good result and that's normal.

The Algerian described El Guerroudj as "the new generation" in the 1,500. "I think he'll dominate that event for years to come."

Morceli said he'd had flu for about two weeks and probably won't go to Sarajevo. "In this condition, I've got to be honest, I cannot compete," he said.

- CNN Sports Coverage

Morceli to attempt three WR's next season

- September 28, 1996
PARIS (Sep 28, 1996 - 13:42 EST) - Algeria's Olympic and world 1,500 metres champion Noureddine Morceli said on Saturday he planned to attack the world 1,500, 2,000 and 3,000 metre records next year.

Morceli, 26, already holds the world 1,500 and 2,000 marks as well as the mile record but lost his 3,000 best to Kenyan Daniel Komen this year.

In a news conference in Algiers reported by the official Algerian news agency APS, Morceli said he did not think he was ready yet to tackle the 5,000 record.

"I have the capacity to run the 1,500 metres in three minutes 24 seconds or three minutes 25, and the 3,000 in seven minutes 18 or 19 seconds," Morceli said.

"I am still young and I am able to take other titles and achieve other records."

- Info Service

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Last modified: January 14, 2003