Morceli's 1998 Season - Reports
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Noureddine Morceli - 1998 Season Reports

Morceli victorious at Lausanne 1998 Meeting

Report List: 
  Oregon: Morceli to Run at adidas Oregon Track Classic
  Oregon: Challenger takes on Morceli 
  Oregon: Morceli thrills crowd, atheltes
  Brasil: Morceli, Algeria Dominate at Brasil Grand Prix
  Osaka:  Morceli Fades at Osaka Frand Prix
  Report: Don't Write Morceli Off Yet
  Cork:   Prelude1: Morceli Confirmed to Run at Cork City Sports Prelude2: Morceli Set for  a Scorcher
  Cork:   Irish Shine in Mardyke Show
  Rome:   Report 1  Report 2
  Nice:   Prelude: El Guerrouj to go for Double Record
  Nice:   El Guerrouj Misses Out on Mile Record
  GWG:    Order is Restored: Johnson and Morceli Wearing Gold
  [talk]  RunnersWorld Online Morceli Interview
  Galan:  Stockholm Grand Prix Meeting  Description
  Rieti:  Prelude: Morceli not finished yet
  Rieti:  Morceli Wins Last Race of Season

Mile World Record Holder Morceli To Run at adidas Oregon Track Classic

 April 28, 1998 
Portland - World mile record holder and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Noureddine Morceli of Algeria has entered the mile race at the 1998 adidas Oregon Track Classic. The May 16 race at Lewis & Clark College will be Morceli's first in the U.S. since his gold medal performance in the 1500-meter race at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

Morceli is one of the greatest track and field athletes of the 20th century. He is the current world record holder in the 1500-meters (3:27.37), mile (3:44.39), 2000-meter races (4.47.88) and is a former world record holder at 3000-meters (7:25.11). He has won three World Championships gold medals (1991, 1993, 1995) and was ranked by Track & Field News as the world's best miler for seven straight years from 1990-1996. The magazine also has selected him twice as the sport's Athlete of the Year.

"We are very excited to have Noureddine run in the adidas Oregon Track Classic," meet director Paul Banta said. "Portland track fans will get a rare chance tosee the best miler ever."

Although Morceli is the class of the mile field, he's not the only world-class miler in the race. Paul McMullen, a two-time U.S. outdoor champion and 1996 Olympian, and 1995 World Championships finalist Kevin Sullivan of Canada are part of a deep field. McMullen returned to racing this winter after a lawnmower accident that cost him two toes to win the U.S. Indoor Championships in Atlanta. Sullivan, a senior at Michigan, is favored to win the NCAA 1500 title this spring.


- Paul Benta (
adidas Oregon Track Classic)

Challenger takes on Morceli

 May 16, 1998 
They are a study in extreme contrast.

The world's greatest miler -- slight, angular and soft-spoken, his handshake as gentle as his voice.

America's up-and-coming miler -- built like the football player he once was, outgoing and outspoken.

Noureddine Morceli and Paul McMullen meet this evening in the marquee event of the Adidas Oregon Track Classic at Lewis & Clark College. Morceli, perhaps the greatest mid-distance runner in history, is almost certain to win in what could be the fastest time ever run on the college's track.

But McMullen plans to shadow the Algerian every step of the way -- a sizable feat considering Morceli's speed and the fact that McMullen, a two-time U.S. 1,500 meters champion, is returning to competition after losing two toes in a lawnmower accident last summer.

"I've done so much work for it," McMullen said. "It's getting on the track and putting the wheel down. And a little bit of bravery, a little bit of courage."

The differences between the two runners go beyond the physical and cultural. Morceli has accomplished everything he hoped in a brilliant career that included seven world records (including his still-standing 3 minutes, 44.39 seconds for the mile and 3:27.37 for the 1,500), world titles and, finally, an Olympic gold medal in the 1,500 in 1996 in Atlanta.

"My mission is really completed," Morceli said. "After all I've achieved, this is like extra in my career. I don't worry about failure because I've achieved everything."

McMullen is at the other end of his career, still young and learning at 26. He is hungry for victories.

The track meet begins with the pole vault at 5 p.m. An all-star men's field includes Antonio Pettigrew, the 1991 world champion in the 400; Mark Croghan, currently leading the world in the steeplechase; four-time U.S. champion Todd Williams in the 10,000; Pat Manson and Jeff Hartwig in the pole vault; and American record-holder Tom Pukstys in the javelin.

In the showcase women's events, Chryste Gaines and Inger Miller, relay gold medalists at the 1996 Olympics, will battle in the 200; two-time Olympian Suzy Hamilton competes in the 1,500; American record-holder Amy Rudolph in the 5,000; and Olympian Meredith Rainey in the 800.

Morceli is considering retirement -- he will decide whether to pursue the 2000 Olympic Games based on this season. But he is not slowing down. At a Grand Prix meet earlier this spring in Brazil, Morceli was timed in 3:34.34 for the 1,500.

McMullen, who never considered quitting running, credited his overall strength with helping him return to running normally. This spring, he won the Drake Relays mile in 3:59.2.

"I'm tickled," McMullen said. "If your goal is to be the best in the world, he's a good one to measure yourself by." McMullen raced against Morceli a couple of years ago and was dazzled -- and destroyed -- by the Algerian's punishing early speed.

"There's an invisible rope between two runners in a race and you can tell when one runner breaks that rope," McMullen said. "My promise to my coach, to myself and to America is I'm going to hold on to him until the end."

- Abby Haight of the Oregonian staff (

Morceli thrills crowd, athletes

 May 17, 1998 
The world-record holder and Olympic champion in the mile speeds to an easy win, the highlight of the Oregon Track Classic

He was a light in the gray rain, a shimmer of lime green and flying feet and a glint of gold from the chain around his neck.

For a brief few moments -- 3 minutes, 54.09 seconds, to be exact -- Noureddine Morceli defied the drag of a rainy Northwest evening in a spellbinding mile at the Adidas Oregon Track Classic.

The world-record holder -- one of the greatest mid-distance runners in history -- brought a stalwart crowd at Lewis & Clark College to its feet as he sped ahead of America's best miler, Paul McMullen, and a field of talented mid-distance runners.

Such speed had never been seen at Eldon Fix Track.

After the race, with steam rising like smoke from his body, West Linn's Dan Browne described the experience of running against the world's best -- a man who has set seven world records and who ran the fastest mile ever, in 3:44.39.

"It was exciting," said Browne, who normally runs longer distances but finished sixth. "Just the opportunity to run against the Olympic champion. It was a great experience.

"I wanted to give myself a chance."

Morceli started the race behind rabbit Baghdad Racham, then took over the pace on the third lap. McMullen hung with the leader, then started to fade before reasserting himself and finishing second in 3:58.19.

"I felt good, I felt ready," said McMullen, running in only his second outdoor race since losing two toes in a lawnmower accident last year. "I just haven't gotten my racing legs under me. I measured myself with the world's best and I'm a little bit shy."

Morceli, who ducked his head and waved briefly when introduced before the race, broke into a wide smile and shook hands with fans after his victory. He lingered, chatting with children who were about to race a one-lap kids' run.

"I'm happy," he said. "I won't complain. We still have a long season to go."

But if it had been warm and dry?

"I would have been three or four seconds faster," he said.


- Abby Haight OregonLive
- picture from

Morceli, Algeria Dominate at Brasil Grand Prix

May 3, 1998
[cut] Earlier, Algeria's Olympic champion Noureddine Morceli had wiped the sleep out of his eyes and easily won the men's 1,500 meters in a race dominated by his country.

Victory was never in doubt once Morceli sped clear of the pack just after the bell as Algeria took three of the first four places.

Morceli won in three minutes 34.99 seconds, more than a second clear of Kenya's David Lelei, who closed the gap slightly down the back straight but never looked like winning.

"I expected to go a bit faster but it was very early," Morceli said of the 11.15 a.m. start. "I haven't raced at this hour for a long time."

[cut] -

Morceli Fades at Osaka Grand Prix

 May 9, 1998 
[cut] Algeria's Noureddine Morceli suffered his second defeat in the 1500m in a week when he lost by nearly 1.5 seconds to Uganda's Julius Achon. Already in Doha on Thursday, Morceli seemed to have nothing left when John Kibowen (KEN) surged from behind in the final 50 metres to take the tape, and the weakness which was apparent in the closing stages of that race was confirmed today.



Age looked to catching up with Algerian veteran middle-distance runner Noureddine Morcelli.

The once indefatigable Morcelli, 28, the world 1,500 metres record holder, finished second to 21-year-old Ugandan Julius Achon in the 1,500 metres when he was unable to hold off his younger opponent at the final bend.

Morcelli led from the start but Achon put on a sustained sprint from the middle of the field half-way through the final lap to draw level with the Algerian as they came into the straight and won easily.

Morcelli last week won the opening Grand Prix event in Rio de Janeiro but he admitted having to race again so quickly took a toll.

``The long flights to get here made me tired,'' said Morcelli who arrived in Osaka only 24 hours before the event.

Achon paid tribute to Morcelli's record but added: ``Even a machine will get tired.''

- Reuters

Don't Write Morceli Off Yet

 July 1998 
Since Noureddine Morceli's seasonal openers at the Rio de Janeiro (a 3:34.99 win) and Qatar (a 3:34.34 loss) GPs, track chat on the internet has been rife with posts speculating that the 28-year-old Algerian is "washed up" or "past his prime." The negative posts intensified following a tactical-race loss to former George Mason standout Julius Achon at the Osaka GP.

Many of those messages noted that Morceli - who has been knocked outof the No. 1 slot in the World Rankings last year by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj after a record run atop the rankings - had managed a mere fourth place effort at last summer's World Championships.

And that followed a DNF at his much publicized showdown with haile Gebrselassie over 2M in May.

The 1500/mile WR holder, however, seems anything but worried about being washed up following a 3:54.09 win at the adidas/Oregon Classic.

Instead, he appears confident that he is on his way to one of his best seasons ever. He is relaxed, jovial, and very self-assured. "I've had a very good beginning this year," says the reigning Olympic Champion. "Today's 3:54 was a very good starting point. I am well ahead of where I was last year at this time. Last year, I hada torn sheath during the spring which set back my training, then I lost my brother in a car crash while I was in training camp two weeks prior to the World Championships. Mentally, I was not fit. Still, I ran 3:30 for 1500 and 3:48 for the mile; it was not a bad season."

Morceli is setting high expectations for this "off" year: "Since there are no major championships, my main goal is to improve my times in the 1500, mile, and 3000. I plan to go through to at least 2000 and get another medal at the Olympics - hopefully gold."

What is left for a man who ranked No.1 in the world fora record seven straight years, won three World Champs and one Olympic gold, and set WRs in the 1500, mile, 2000, and 3000?

After his gold in Atlanta, he says, "I have completed my mission; there is nothing left to complete. But there are plenty of things left for me to do. I plan to improve my times this year. That is what still motivates me. If you don't have a goal, you can't keep going."

"I want to continue at the top for another 5 years. I've already been at the top for 7 years in the 1500. The mark of a great champion is to stay on top for a long time." Nobody has ever stayed on top even remotely as long as Morceli did, 1990-96. The next best are 3-year runs, by Kiwi legends Peter Snell (1962-64) and John Walker (1974-76).

Does Morceli think he can regain the top spot or has El Guerrouj taken it from him for good? "I respect El Guerrouj very much as a person and as an athlete," he says. "I intend to improve this year. If he beats me, then I'll have to accept it; if I beat him, he'll have to accept it."

How about plans to move up to the 5000, where he ran 13:03.85 and ranked No.1 in '94? "Why not? In '94 I raced all the best 5000 runners and ran a 51-second last lap to beat all of them. I'll wait to see how the 1500 goes this year; if I continue to improve, I won't move up."

- Mike Scott,
Track and Field News July 1998, p.19.

Morceli Confirmed to Run at Cork City Sports

 June 16, 1998 
The world record-holder Noureddine Morceli is a confirmed starter in the 1,500 metres at the Cork City Sports on Saturday week. The Olympic and three time world champion from Algeria will be a huge boost to the meeting, which promises to be the best in the country for many years.

Chairman Dick Hodgins said Morceli's manager and brother, Abderahmane, contacted the meeting organisers to express an interest in a world-record attempt in Cork. "We made initial contact last October but received confirmation last week from their base in Colorado that Morceli will run," said Hodgins. "He wanted a fast race and we have a fast track. Even with the restrictions of our budget, he expressed a strong commitment to running in Cork."

Morceli will be accompanied by three top-class Algerian runners to ensure a serious attack on his rec ord of three minutes 27.37 seconds, which he set three years ago. Morceli also holds the world rec ord for the mile and 2,000m and has been the top 1,500m runner in the world for the past eight years.

Marcus O'Sullivan will run for the last time in Ireland in the same race and this played a part in the appearance of Morceli. O'Sullivan had a major role in the pace-making duties in several of his records and the Algerian is good friends with O'Sullivan.

With Sonia O'Sullivan already promising to attack the world rec ord for two miles, the Cork meeting is certain to provide an afternoon of quality athletics.

Susan Smith will run the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles and James Nolan, Niall Bruton and Shane Healy will run in the 1500m. Irish record-holder David Matthews will take on a strong 800m field that will feature several Kenyan and Algerian runners.

The 800m will also include James McElroy, won ran a personal best and new Northern Ireland record of 1:46.07 on Sunday. It was the fastest time by an Irish athlete this season and qualified the Ballymena man for the European championships in Budapest in August.

- The Irish Times, Ian O'Riordan

Morceli Set for a Scorcher

 June 27, 1998
NOUREDDINE MORCELI will be looking for a fast time when he lines up for the 1,500m at Bord Gáis Cork City Sports this afternoon. The Olympic champion is reconstructing his career after what he described as a bad year for him.

Three times world champion outdoors and winner of another world title indoors, the world record holder was stripped of his title by Hicham El Guerrouj in Athens last year. But that defeat did not tell the full story of what was an emotional year for the talented Algerian.

"I was very sick at the beginning of the season," he explained last evening as he prepared for today's race. "It took me a long time to recover and that was obviously going to affect me physically going to Athens. "And then my brother died following a traffic accident and that affected my mental approach very much. It was very difficult for me and I was not mentally prepared for the world championships last year," he said.

With his sights firmly on next year's world championships in Spain, he has been easing himself back into competitive running. So far this season he has had four races ^× winning in Rio and then in Athens a couple of weeks ago. "I was very pleased with my run in Athens. Right now I just want to compete in the smaller meetings ^× the Grand Prix 2 meets ^× but I will compete in three of the bigger meetings although I am not yet sure which ones," he said.

He said he will be looking for a fast time this afternoon as he moves along to the next phase. "I would like it to be fast and I will probably have a pacemaker," he said. "I like it very much here and I am looking forward to the meeting."

He is responsible for the four fastest 1,500m ever run. He set the current world record at 3:27.37 in Nice three years ago when he broke the old record of 3:28.8 which he set at Rieti in 1992. He also holds the world record for the mile at 3:44.39 from 1993 and 2,000m at 4:47.88 and he held the world record for 3,000m at 7:25.11 until Daniel Komen broke it two years ago.

In the absence of Marcus O'Sullivan, who will be watching from trackside for a change, Niall Bruton should be the top Irishman and he is joined by two other sub four minute milers, Ken Nason, back off injury, and Shane Healy in a field that includes UK internationals Kevin McKay and Gary Lough, Ian Campbell and Grant Graham of Scotland, Julian Marsh of Australia, Thomas Suter of Switzerland, Steve Agar of Canada, a big Kenyan representation including David Kibet, Ibrahim Aden of Somalia and two other Algerians, Ahmed Seghir Krama and Baghdad Racham.

- Irish Time, Brendan Mooney

Irish Shine in Mardyke Show

 June 29, 1998 
"How did he sign your autograph," asked a curious mother.

"Just Morceli," said the child.

"He didn't give you the full name then," replied the woman.

"No," said the lad.

"Well boy," said a thick Cork accent from the crowd, "there is only one Morceli."

The ground was thick with some of the world's finest athletes at the Mardyke. Fickle skies and a gusting wind put paid to any sprint records for the 6,000 who turned up at the UCC grounds, but the presence of the phenomenal Algerian Noureddine Morceli, Ireland's charismatic and most recent world champion Sonia O'Sullivan and 400 metres world champion Cathy Freeman restyled the Cork grounds into something of an international spectacle.

In truth, the Bord Gais Cork City Sports became a multi-act drama during which the other Irish performers provided enough vigour to be more than simply a chorus line between main features.

O'Sullivan's two-mile gallop around the track nine seconds inside the 13-year-old world record mark of American Lynn Jennings once more stole the show and she has again placed herself in the bosom of Irish hopes and aspirations for the European Championships this summer in Budapest.

"I was a bit worried," O'Sullivan said. "She (Amy Rudolph) was getting a bit close. But I think it helped a lot having her there. The season is only starting and I haven't raced for three weeks so I felt a bit nervous." For O'Sullivan, the record gilded not only the event but more importantly boosted her confidence. The distance is now rarely contested, but the record is likely to strengthen the brilliant but occasionally fragile temperament.

Importantly, O'Sullivan's kick remains lethal as Rudolph sat on her shoulder for much of the race, always threatening to explode down the final 150 metres.

Thankfully for O'Sullivan, that "bye-bye" gear she had been so used to pre-Atlanta was once again in evidence and, buoyed by the home crowd, she left her opponent on the bend with a 64-second last lap to obliterate the former record in nine minutes 19.56 seconds.

The manner of doing it as much as the record itself was paramount to O'Sullivan, who also hinted that she has become more considered in her preparations and training.

"So long as I do what I'm told and not go off and do crazy things, I think I'll be alright," she said. A number of people nodded approvingly.

While Morceli's magical run of 3:34.79 was the fastest 1,500 metres run in Ireland, it was for him a moderate performance and perhaps just another demonstration of his undeniable brilliance. Morceli can toss off such runs at will.

"I was looking for maybe a 3:32 or a 3:31 but it was windy. Still, I'm satisfied. When you win a race you really can't ask for much more," said the 1,500 metres world record holder.

While Niall Bruton may have been disappointed with his seventh in the 1,500 metres, both Sean Carroll, in the 5,000 metres, and James Nolan, in the 800 metres, produced virtuoso performances. Given the strength of the fields, both runners held off overseas challenges to run well inside the qualifying times for the European Championships.

Nolan, showboating for the final 10 metres in his now traditional fashion, could easily have run faster than 1:47.10. In the process, the UCD student effortlessly saw off the challenge of Kenyans Sammy Langat and Phillip Kemboi.

Carroll drew the same refreshing gasp of appreciation from the crowd when he took off with two laps to go and held off both the Kenyans James Kosgei and Daniel Gachare and Japan's Toshinari Takoka to run 13:20.84, the fastest 5,000 metres run in Ireland.

Susan Smith also ran herself back into a healthy frame of mind after her leaden 400 metre hurdles run in St Denis three weeks ago. Smith pulled away mid race to win in 55.84, well clear of England's Kerry Maddox.

Lena Barry also sparkled and ran a wind-assisted 11.43 in the 100 metres, equalling Michelle Carroll's 20-year-old Irish record. Barry came third behind England's Simone Jacobs and Australia's Cathy Freeman, who went on to win the 200 metres.

- Johnny Watterson, Irish Times

Hicham El Guerrouj shatters 1500 World Record

 July 14, 1998 
Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj has shattered the previous world record in the 1500m. Running a perfect race, El Guerrouj broke away from the pacemakers at the 1400m mark and kicked out for home, a new world record time of 3:26:00, a $50,000 dollar Golden League world record bonus and confirmation that he is very much in the running for the million dollar IAAF Golden LeagueEricsson Jackpot. El Guerouj was asked in a press conference here yesterday what the figure 3:27 meant and he answered then "a world record", nobody thought to ask him what the numbers 3:26 would have meant. It's pretty unlikely also that the media in Rome for the Golden Gala, second stage of the IAAF Golden League who were asked to guess the time for the 1500m in a prize draw proposed by jackpot sponsor Ericsson would have considered this time as anything more than the height of optimism. Hicham is not short on optimism now. Speaking after his record run, he said: "My dream is to run 3:24. I hope to do it before this season is out; if not, God willing, I will be back to do it here next year. Before it was Aouita's time, then it was Morceli's, now it is Hicham's time. We are all Moslems, all brothers."

El Guerrouj literally wiped out the previous mark of 3:27:37 which had been set by Aleria's Noureddine Morceli almost three years ago to the day, on 12 July 1995, in Nice.His split times were: 400m 0.55; 800: 1:50.73; 1100: 2:32.73, 1200: 2:46.34 - 39.66 for the last 300 metres!


El Guerrouj shatters Morceli's Record

 July 14, 1998 
ROME, July 14 - Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj broke the world 1500 metres record on Tuesday when he ran an astonishing three minutes 26.00 seconds at the Golden Gala athletics meeting in Rome.

El Guerrouj chopped more than a second off the previous best mark of 3:27.37 set by his great Algerian mentor Noureddine Morceli in Nice three years ago this month.

The Moroccan, running in a low key field of competitors, on a humid, overcast evening at the Olympic stadium was pulled along by Kenyan pacemaker Robert Kibet for the first half of the race and then by Noah Ngeny, also of Kenya.

El Guerrouj hit the front 300 metres from the line and strode home comfortably inside the record, although his exact mark was only confirmed a full 20 minutes after the run due to a fault in the timing system.

The supremely confident 23-year-old had no doubts about his time, which was more than three seconds inside his season's previous best, set at the opening Golden League event of the season in Oslo last week.

``Before, it was Said Aouita, then Morceli, now it's the hour of Hicham,'' he said. ``Only the clock can beat me. My only enemy is Hicham.''

``I came here with the idea of breaking the record. I ran 3:33 here in pouring rain last year. This time the weather was perfect,'' said El Guerrouj, who dedicated his win to Morocco's King Hassan.

``If God wants, I'll come back to Rome next year and run 3:24.00.''


El Guerrouj goes for double record

 July 16, 1998
HICHAM El Guerrouj can make it a world record double in Nice tonight, according to Steve Cram.

The Briton, who was at trackside in Rome to see El Guerrouj break the three-year-old world 1500 metres record in 3 min 26.00 sec, believes the Moroccan can reduce the world record for the mile to 3-41, an improvement of more than three seconds on the time set by Noureddine Morceli, of Algeria, in 1993.

El Guerrouj and Morceli's meeting over the classic distance comes on the 13th anniversary of Cram's own 1500m record on the same track on the French Riviera where he beat Said Aouita - El Guerrouj's mentor - to become the first man to break 3-30.

To put the new record in perspective, Sir Roger Bannister would have finished 150 metres behind El Guerrouj and even Steve Ovett would have been 30 metres adrift at the finish.

Cram said: "What I saw in Rome was awesome. This guy can take the world record into another dimension. We used to think that the differential between the 1500m and the mile was something like 17 seconds. Now it is closer to 15, which means that El Guerrouj should be capable of running 3-41 for the mile. I'm only glad that I'm not running now."

Cram, in Rome working for Channel 4's athletics magazine programme, was the first to congratulate El Guerrouj after the 23-year-old picked him out of a crowd of reporters for the first post-race interview.

"Right now, I believe that only the clock can beat me," said El Guerrouj. "My only enemy is Hicham. I came with the intention of breaking the record. I am only at the beginning of my career. There is more I can do."

Organisers of the Bupa Games in Gateshead on Sunday hope that El Guerrouj will have something left for an attempt on Morceli's 2,000m world record.

John Mayock, Britain's top middle-distance runner, who finished 10 seconds behind him in Rome, said: "This guy is not of this planet. This is just the start."

- Tom Knight, Electronic Telegraph

El Guerrouj Misses Out on Mile Record

July 17, 1998
HICHAM EL GUERROUJ was just a couple of yards short of breaking his second world record in three days last night when he narrowly failed to improve Noureddine Morceli's time for the mile in Nice.

The 23-year-old Moroccan's brave attempt to better Morceli's record of 3min 44.39sec fell victim to some sloppy pacemaking and he was left with too much to do on the last of the four laps.

El Guerrouj, who broke the world 1500m record on Tuesday, crossed the line in 3min 44.60sec, a mere 0.2sec outside the record, but it was still the second fastest mile ever run. He needed to run even-paced laps but was taken round the first 400 metres in 54.43sec and the second circuit in 56.4sec.

Left to run the last 550 metres on his own, the world 1500m champion launched a desperate attempt to rescue the record. Roared on by the crowd, his stride lengthened and his arms pumped frantically as he rounded the final bend. Disappointed though he was, El Guerrouj knows the record will soon be his. It is only a matter of time.

Kenya's Laban Rotich was second in 3min 51.02sec, while Britain's Tony Whiteman clocked a much improved personal best of 3min 51.90sec in third.

Conditions were perfect with the temperature settled at 20ˇc and no sign of the breeze which had blown into the faces of sprinters earlier in the evening.

Despite his glorious failure, there is no let-up for El Guerrouj. He arrives in Gateshead this afternoon in preparation for yet another attempt at removing Morceli's name from the record books at the Bupa Games on Sunday. This time it is the Algerian's 2000m mark.

After that El Guerrouj will join the hurdler, Colin Jackson, in New York for the Goodwill Games.

It was a fabulous night for the Moroccans. The 20-year-old Hasna Benhassi won the women's 800m in a personal best of 1min 58.47sec. Salah El Ghazi held off Kenya's Martin Keino to win the 3000m in 7min 38.58sec and Mahjoub Haida took the men's 800m in a race which featured an inspired performance from James McIlroy, the young athlete from Northern Ireland who ran a personal best of 1min 45.32sec.

The women's 3000m featured an outstanding performance from Zohra Ouaziz, the 28-year-old Moroccan. She outsprinted Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan round the final lap to win in 8min 28.67sec, the fastest time in the world this year.

- Tom Knight, Electronic Telegraph

Order is Restored: Johnson and Morceli Wearing Gold

July 22, 1998
Taking their cue from the Goodwill Games marketing slogan, "Where the world's best athletes prove it," both Michael Johnson and Noureddine Morceli did, earning impressive victories in the men's 400 meters and mile, respectively last night. They did so in front of the largest crowd of these Games so far, 9,756, who endured another day of hot, humid conditions.

Johnson, who had been struggling with injuries since pulling up lame in last year's 150- meter match race against Donovan Bailey, powered through the final turn of the one-lap race and crossed the finish line in 43.76. It was the fastest time in the world this year and broke the previous Goodwill Games record by over a second. Johnson was satisfied, but analytical.

"I'm very pleased with the race," he said. "Because of the injuries it's been difficult to gauge how far along I am with my training. My coach and I have learned over the years that consistency breeds consistency, and what we tried to do was remain consistent in my training, style and strategy. I'm definitely on the road to getting back to being as strong as I was last year and in 1996."

There was clearly extra pressure on Johnson to perform. Games organizers made him the central figure in their advertising and promotional campaigns, a fact that wasn't lost on bronze medalist Antonio Pettigrew. "Let's be realistic," said Pettigrew. "He's on all the advertisements, commercials and everything. I couldn't expect for Michael to come here and not be ready to run."

Morceli dominated his competitors in the mile, winning a tactical race in 3:53.39. American Steve Holman lead the race from the gun, towing William Tanui and Paul McMullen behind him. Daniel Komen made the first big move just past 800 meters to take the lead. Morceli responded quickly, following Komen, but didn't take the lead until the bell. Morceli's 56.09 final lap left little doubt as to the outcome. Komen faded to third, and Holman finished last, after falling early in the last lap.

"I'm very happy with my race," Morceli said. "In major championships you don't expect big, big times. My concern today was to defend my title from 1994, because this weather was very hard for fast times."

The heat and humidity took their toll on Americans Paul McMullen and Jason Pyrah, who were both sick to their stomachs after the race. McMullen said he had never worked so hard for a sixth-place finish.

"I was on my game tonight, and ran with them as long as I could. I tried to cover every move they made," said an exhausted McMullen. "I just ran out of gas with 250 to go."

USATF national 1500-meter champion Jamey Harris finished fourth in a personal best 3:55.39.


- RunnersWorld Online

RunnersWorld Online Morceli Interview

July 27, 1998
Having recently lost his 1500-meter world record to Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, Noureddine Morceli of Algeria, the 1996 Olympic champion and three-time world champion, is looking slightly more human these days. He still holds the mile world record (3:44.39), which El Guerrouj just missed when he ran 3:44.60 on July 16 in Nice. Morceli, now 28 years old, has been talking about moving up to the 5000 meters if he cannot improve his 1500 racing. He spoke to reporters after winning the mile at the Goodwill Games on last Tuesday in a "slow" 3:53.39.

Runner's World Daily: Were you happy with your race?

Noureddine Morceli: Yes, I'm very happy with it. In major championships you don't expect big, big times. What was of concern for me today was to defend my title from '94, because this weather was very hot for fast times. Today was very slow and tactical.

RWD: Did the race go according to plan for you?

NM: Yes, exactly what I wanted to do. You can't have pacemakers in championships so I just settled down and was waiting for my last lap to kick.

WD: Were you worried about Daniel Komen on the last lap? NM: No. When I knew it was a slow race, I could use my strong kick. Komen is very strong. I have a lot of respect for him. He is a great athlete. But he is still very young and has a lot of years to go. I was preparing very, very good [for this meet]. I did a 3:50 mile two weeks ago, so I was in shape. I was not worried about the time. If the pace was 3:47 then I would have run 3:47.

RWD: Have you been trying to race yourself into shape this season? NM: I knew exactly where I wanted to be [this year]. You cannot run very fast at the beginning of the season. You do a little bit of specific training, and then you will run very, very fast. That's what I want to do. RWD: Where will you be running next? Will you be running the Golden League meets? NM: Probably I'm at Zurich and Berlin, and probably I'm racing in Lausanne and Stockholm.

RWD: Do you know when you might face El Guerrouj?

NM: I don't know. I have a lot of respect for Hicham. Hicham is such a great athlete. He won't be 24 until September. He has great talent and has many years to go. I will see, because I think I did too much in the 1500 meters, and maybe I'll give it one more try and see what I can do. I believe that I have a lot of chances to run very good in the 5000 meters later on.

RWD: Are you still the world's greatest miler?

NM: I don't know [laughs]. I'm trying to be. I know there are a lot of youngsters coming and that makes it very tough, but I'm trying. I'm trying.

- Dave Monti/RunnersWorld

Stockholm Grand Prix Meeting

August 5, 1998
No athlete last night managed to add to the 83 world records that have been broken at Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, but plenty of one-carat diamonds were awarded to those who broke stadium records at the Grand Prix meeting.

America's Maurice Greene earned a $10,000 diamond when he blasted away from a high-quality 100 metres field to win in 9.90 seconds. Maria Mutola of Mozambique did the same in the women's 800 metres, taking victory in 1 minutes 56.71 seconds - the fastest in the world this year.

Noureddine Morceli again suggested that his best days may be over when Kenyan John Kibowen out-classed him in the mile, taking victory and a diamond in 3:51.32. It was the first defeat for the Algerian over the mile since 1992.

The final record attempt of the evening saw Moroccan El Mahoub Haida fail to take Sebastian Coe's mark of 2:12.18 for 1000 metres, although he did he did get inside the stadium best of Steve Cram by winning in 2:15.18.

Ireland's Nicky Sweeney proved that he's over injury worries by throwing 64.82 metres - his best of the season - to win the discus at a seperate field-events meeting in Stockholm.

- Ian O'Riordan (Irish Times)

Stockholm Mile Description

August 7, 1998 Splits: 400m - 55:00 - Thoms; 800 - 1:51.69 - Thoms; 1000m - 2:22 - Kibet; 1200m - 2:52.62 - Kibowen. (from IAAF)

I saw the race on the BBC. Kibowen was the only "real" runner to follow the pacemakers, and the rest of the pack were 20 meter behind Kibowen once the pacemakers were gone. Kibowen held on -just- to finish ahead of Morceli.

So splits for Morceli probably look more like 1:55 - 1:57.

- Eric Roosendaal

I saw the race and I can tell you that they started with 2 rabbits but only Kibowen tried to follow them, so he got a 10 metres gap to the group. In front of the group was Morceli during almost all the race. Morceli's last lap (I got 56.6 manual for his last lap) was faster than Kibowen's one but it was not enough to win.

- Antonio Carrasco

Not finished yet: Morceli still could be a contender at Rieti

August 29, 1998
RIETI, Italy (AP) -- Noureddine Morceli is not ready to abdicate. Not completely. The Algerian's reign as the world's premier middle-distance runner may be over, but he insisted on the eve of Sunday's IAAF Rieti Grand Prix meet that he still has one or two years of top performances left.

"As long as I put shoes on my feet there are things I can do," Morceli, 28, said in an interview Saturday. "I have been running very fast for many years. I have ranked No. 1 seven time. I have done everything. When you are 28, 29, 30 you don't have the same strength and speed. But I know I still can produce very fast times."

His optimism may be bolstered by being in this little town nestled in mountains about 55 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Rome. Morceli twice set world records here.

"It is a special track, it's like it has magic," the Olympic champion said. "Many people have produced fast times here. I feel like I am at home."

When he lines up for the 1,500 meters Sunday, the opponents will not include Hicham El Guerrouj, who clipped more than a second off Morceli's old record for the 1,500 by running 3 minutes, 26 seconds at the Golden Gala meet in Rome last month.

El Guerrouj also ended Morceli's four-year unbeaten streak at the distance in 1996 and took away the Algerian's three-year hold on the world title last year. But El Guerrouj is skipping Rieti to concentrate on the final Golden League series meet, Tuesday at Berlin.

"He has great talent and he's very, very young," Morceli, who still owns the standards for the mile and 2,000 meters, said of his rival. "The way he has been running he is the king of he middle distances right now. I have thought about changing my distance, trying to make my mark in the 5,000 meters. Let's give it another year or two and see. If [my speed] doesn't come back I won't lose anything. I still have what I accomplished in the past."

Morceli has been hampered by tendon injuries this season, but says he's healthy now.

Opting out of Rieti were sprinting and long jump star Marion Jones, and top men's sprinters Ato Boldon and Maurice Greene. Former 3,000 steeplechase record holder Wilson Boit Kipketer pulled out with a back injury, while Heike Drechsler - the newly-crowned European champion and past Olympic and world titlist and record-holder in the women's long jump - was a late scratch because she had to shoot an advertisement for a sponsor, organizers said.

The men's high jump will feature a top-flight battle between world record holder and world champion Javier Sotomayor, Olympic titlist Charles Austin and Poland's Arthur Partyka, who captured the gold at last week's European championships.

Others participating include Olympic pole vault champion Jean Galfion and all three medalists from the shot put at the Europeans (Aleksander Bagach, Oliver-Sven Buder and Yuri Belonog).


Morceli Wins Last Race of Season

August 30, 1998
RIETI, Italy (Aug 30, 1998 - 18:31 EDT) -- Noureddine Morceli struggled to win the 1,500 meters, an event he used to dominate, at Sunday's IAAF Rieti Grand Prix meet. He then announced he would not race again this season.

The Algerian, who has set two world records at this track nestled in the mountains about 35 miles northeast of Rome, failed to put away countryman Miloud Abaoub until the final 100 meters and crossed the line in 3 minutes, 33.58 seconds. Abaoub clocked 3:34.47.

"I'm satisfied with winning; that's what's important to me now," said Morceli, the Olympic champion and a three-time world titlist who acknowledged his strength and speed have diminished significantly. "But this is my last race of the year. I need to save energy for next season."

He'll skip Tuesday's Golden League meet in Berlin and the Sept. 5 Grand Prix Final in Moscow.

Two women bettered meet records that had stood since 1988.

Former world champion Maria Mutola of Mozambique won the 800 meters in 1:57.71, which was 0.35 seconds faster than Anna Fidelia Quirot's old standard.

"I ran two days ago (in Brussels), so I'm a little tired but I'm happy with the record," said Mutola, who owns four of the season's top six times. "I know that the day will come that I will lose. I'm only a human being, you know."

Russia's Maria Pantyukhova clocked 8:42.11 in the 3,000 to slash over five seconds off Roberta Brunet's old meet record.

It was an impressive performance on a track that has consistently proven conducive to them.

Six world records have been set here, including Morceli's still-standing mark for the mile in 1993 and a then-record 3:28:86 for the 1,500 the year before.

But Morceli has essentially ceded his title as the world's top middle-distance runner to Hicham El Guerrouj, who set the current 1,500 record of 3:26 in Rome last month.

In other events, African champion Sean Ogunkoya easily won the men's 100 in 10.09 seconds.

Among the men, world record holder Javier Sotomayor won the high jump, Lawrence Johnson of the United States captured the pole vault, and European champion Aleksandr Bagach won the shot put.

Other winners, all in relatively slow times, included Percival Spencer in the 200, Michael McDonald in the 400, Mark Everett in the 800, and Florian Schwarthoff, bronze medalist at the 1996 Olympics, in the 110 hurdles.

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