Morceli's 1999 Season - Reports
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Noureddine Morceli - 1999 Season Reports

Report List: 
  Singapore: Morceli to compete at Singapore International Million-Dollar Mile
  Release: Morceli Promises To Recapture Glory
  Ingolstadt: Morceli Opens Season with 1000m Victory
  Nice: Prelude: Ngeny sets his sights on Coe's 1,000m record Report: Ngeny narrowly misses oldest record
  Paris: Prelude: Ngeny primed to take over El Guerrouj's throne  Report1: Ngeny's bid fails as Kipketer puts best foot forward  Report2: Ngeny continues to flirt with records
  Report: Young Kenyan Hitting His Stride

Singapore reportedly plotting world's richest mile race

May 2, 1999
SINGAPORE (May 2, 1999 2:59 a.m. EDT - Singapore is planning to stage the world's richest mile-long (1.6 kilometer) foot race and offer a prize of $1 million U.S. for a record-breaking feat, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and an international sports marketing company are now negotiating with sponsors, and some of the world's top middle-distance runners are being lined up for the extravaganza.

The Singapore International Million-Dollar Mile, planned for Oct. 3, a Sunday, would be staged on Orchard Road, the city-state's glamorous shopping street.

The guaranteed purse would be $100,000 even if the record is not broken. But how much goes to the winner has yet to be determined.

The rollcall of invited runners reads like a who's who in world athletics, led by mile record holder Noureddine Morceli of Algeria.

If the winner beats the world mile record of three minutes, 44.39 seconds set by Morceli in 1993, he will take home $1 million.

The other invited runners include Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, the world 1,500m record holder and world indoor mile record holder, and Daniel Komen of Kenya, the 3,000m record holder.

From the Asian sporting region, the invited runners, based on their last Asian Games performance, are Mohamad Taib of Qatar, Kim Soon Hyung of South Korea, Prasad Bahadur of Indonesia, and Sato Kiyoharu of Japan.

"We are certainly keen on having the event in Singapore and we're working to try to make it a reality," STB spokesman Michael Lim told the Sunday Times.

The STB's partner in the venture is the International Management Group, a leading sports marketing and management firm.


Morceli Promises To Recapture Glory

January 17, 1999
Algiers, Algeria (PANA) - Algerian athlete Noureddine Morceli, the 1500 m Olympics champion, has declared his intention to snatch top honours during the 21-29 August World Championship in Seville, Spain.

"I will go all out to be in top form during the open-air World Championship," he told the Algerian news Agency.

"This season promises to be appropriate for very remarkable performances," said Moreceli, adding that he started training over a month ago.

He said, however, that he harboured little ambitions in the 5-7 March indoor World Championships in Maebaschi, Japan, saying they were too close for him to make good preparations after the Ramadan fast.

Morceli, who was once awarded the annual Senegalese sports order of merit, a initiated by President Abdou Diouf to honour outstanding African athletes, said personal and technical problems had impeded his performance over the last two years.

The current 1500 m world record is held by the Morocan athlete, Hicham El Guerroudj.

Africa News Online

Morceli Opens Season with 1000m Victory

July 13, 1999
Morceli is back on the track after a long training camp at high altitude in Mexico-City. He won a 1.000m race this Sunday in Ingolstadt/Germany (though the weather conditions were terrible, pouring rain, it didn't rain during the 1.000m race) handily with a 20-25m gap in front of 2nd place (among the beaten were J. Birir and R. Kenah) His time was 2:18:10 min.

- Stephane Franke

Ngeny sets his sights on Coe's 1,000m record

July 16, 1999
SEBASTIAN COE'S one remaining world record comes under threat in Nice tonight from the young Kenyan who pushed Hicham El Guerrouj to his outstanding run in the mile 10 days ago. In the absence of El Guerrouj, who has returned to his training camp in Belgium to recover from a mystery illness, attention at the Nikaia meeting will shift to Noah Ngeny, who finished 0.27sec behind the Moroccan's world record of 3min 43.13sec in Rome.

Ngeny, 20, a member of manager Kim McDonald's group of Kenyans who are based in Teddington for the summer, is attacking Coe's 18-year-old record for the 1,000 metres, of 2min 12.18sec.

Set during the summer of 1981, when Coe held four world records, his time for 1,000m has since resisted attempts to improve it by Steve Cram and Noureddine Morceli when both were at their best.

Cram came closest, at Gateshead in 1985. Ngeny can at least look forward to more favourable weather on the Côte D'Azur. He will also have the expert pacemaking services of his fellow Kenyan, David Kiptoo, who intends to take him through to 700m.

Morceli, the Algerian who set a world 1500m record on this track in 1995, will also be in the race after winning over the same distance in Germany last weekend, in 2min 18.10sec.

At 29, Morceli is making something of a comeback after being talked out of retirement by family and friends last summer. He spent much of the winter in Mexico only for his return to the track to be delayed when he was involved in a car crash in Algeria.

McDonald said: "World records are always difficult to beat and this one has been around longer than most. This is a realistic attempt.

"Noah's work-outs since Rome have gone well and I reckon he's in 1min 43sec shape for 800m. I think he can do it. Noah is not as fast as Coe over 800m, but the extra distance will bring his greater endurance into play."


The Electronic Telegraph, Saturday 17 July 1999, Tom Knight

Ngeny narrowly misses oldest record

July 17, 1999
NICE, France, July 17 - Kenya's Noah Ngeny ran the second-fastest 1,000 metres ever on Saturday at the Nikaia athletics meeting as Sebastian Coe's world record narrowly withstood another challenge.

In still, calm conditions, Ngeny roared round the track in the French Riviera twilight in two minutes 12.66 seconds, just short of Coe's time of 2:12.18 set 18 years ago in Oslo and the oldest individual record in the athletics record books.

The 20-year-old Kenyan, who has run the three fastest 1,500 metres times this season and pushed Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj to the mile world record two weeks ago in Rome, was paced by compatriot David Kiptoo through much of the race, powering to the front with 200 metres to go.

But Ngeny timed his move a little late, falling just short of Coe's mark but moving ahead of another Briton, Steve Cram, in the all-time rankings.

Algeria's Noureddine Morceli, Olympic 1,500 metres champion and 2,000 metres world record holder, was also expected to challenge the mark but the former world record holder in the 1,500, mile and 3,000 failed to appear on the start line.


picture: Noah Ngeny pacing a 1500m in 1998, from CNN/SI
- Steve Keating, Reuters, Sportsweb

Ngeny primed to take over El Guerrouj's throne

July 20, 1999
PARIS Kenyan middle-distance star Noah Ngeny has had enough of being number two to dual world record holder Hicham El-Guerrouj, and at Wednesday's third IAAF Golden League meeting here, he is determined to take the 1500-meter world mark from the Moroccan.

The 20-year-old, who set the pace for El-Guerrouj when he broke the 1500-meter mark last year in Rome, and then came in second behind the Moroccan when he broke the mile record earlier this month again in Rome, headlines a meeting that lost some of its luster with the withdrawal of Ato Boldon from 200-meter competition.

Ngeny, part of the English-based stable managed by Kim Macdonald, said that he wasn't surprised by his improvement this year, and that it was all part of a plan he had hatched last year after his successful pacemaking for El-Guerrouj.

"We decided that it was time to step out of the shadows, and we have come to the point where I am going to go for El-Guerrouj's 1500-meters record," he said.

"I feel hopeful about it because I don't feel the pressure of being the favorite."

Macdonald, who also manages Kenya's world 5,000-meter champion Daniel Komen, said that while records were welcome, it wasn't what athletes were ultimately judged on.

"When an athlete's career is over, his achievements are judged on the titles he won and not the records he broke," Macdonald said.

The possibility of Ngeny breaking the 24-year-old Moroccan's record has been boosted by the illness that has sidelined El-Guerrouj. In Paris, he will face Algeria's former record holder Noureddine Morceli, who lost his mile mark to El-Guerrouj in Rome.

- Pirate Irwin, Agence France-Press,

Ngeny's bid fails as Kipketer puts best foot forward

July 21, 1999
THE wheels came off Noah Ngeny's 1,500 metres world record attempt here last night, leaving the man whose shoe came off to provide the highlight of the third Golden League meeting of the season. Wilson Kipketer, now as dominant as he was before falling seriously ill with malaria last year, won the 800 metres with one foot bare for three-quarters of the race.

Kipketer thus remains in contention for the $1 million jackpot to be shared between the athletes who complete a 100 per cent victory record over seven Golden League meetings in any of the 12 designated events. The group of contenders, seven before last night, is now down to four, two men and two women. They are Kipketer, Bernard Barmasai, a steeplechaser, Marion Jones, in the 100 metres, and Gabriela Szabo, in the 3,000 metres.

The men's 1,500 metres is not a designated event, so Ngeny's only incentive was the world record of 3min 26.00sec held by Hicham El Guerrouj, from Morocco. However, Robert Kibet, the normally reliable pacemaker and Ngeny's Kenyan compatriot, took him through 800 metres in 1min 52.12sec, nearly 1.5sec slower than he had guided El Guerrouj through the same phase for his record run in Rome 12 months ago.

Still on Ngeny's heels was Noureddine Morceli, the Olympic champion and former world record-holder, from Algeria. There Morceli remained until there were 200 metres to go, when Ngeny stretched away to win in a Kenyan record of 3min 28.84sec. Morceli, who considered retirement last summer after a string of defeats, ran his fastest time for two years, 3min 30.91sec.


David Powell, Athletics Correspondent,
The Times

Ngeny continues to flirt with records

July 21, 1999

PARIS, July 21, Kenya's Noah Ngeny continued to flirt with middle-distance records at the Paris Golden League athletics meeting on Wednesday, clocking the fastest 1,500 metres this season.

Ngeny, who pushed Hicham El Guerrouj to the mile world record in Rome two weeks ago and narrowly missed breaking Sebastian Coe's 1,000m mark at the weekend in Nice, has been the revelation this season, having also clocked the top four 1,500m times this year.

In a display of his growing confidence and form, the 20-year-old Ngeny calmly followed pacemakers through the opening two laps on a cool, blustery Paris evening.

He then blasted past reigning Olympic and three-time world champion Noureddine Morceli in the final 300 metres, storming home in three minutes 28.84 seconds -- the seventh fastest 1,500m ever run and a new Kenyan national record.

"I knew right from the beginning that I would not beat the world record," said Ngeny. "However, I wanted to break the Kenyan record which I did.

"It's just a pity the weather conditions weren't perfect."

The meet began with seven athletes chasing a share of the $1 million Golden League jackpot and finished with only four, American sprint queen Marion Jones, Romania's Gabriela Szabo, Denmark's Wilson Kipketer and Kenya's Bernard Barmasai still in the hunt for a big payday.


picture: Noah Ngeny victorious in Nice this year, from
- Steve Keating, Reuters,

Young Kenyan Hitting His Stride

July 23, 1999
For much of the 1990s, the Kenyans chased Noureddine Morceli and were unable to catch him.

His stride was no fluid, gravity-flouting thing of beauty like Haile Gebrselassie's or Wilson Kipketer's, but it was a consistently efficient, hard-edged tool capable of carrying him through any middle distance at record speed.

That idiosyncratic stride was back in view Wednesday night at a Golden League meet in Paris. But this time Morceli was busy chasing.

At 20, Noah Ngeny, a Kenyan, is eager and gifted and still rising toward his peak. In the span of a year, he has gone from pacemaker to potential record-breaker, and though he broke no record in Paris in the 1,500 meters, neither did he disappoint.

His time of three minutes, 28.84 seconds was the year's fastest and it made him the third fastest man in history over the distance behind Hicham Guerrouj, whose 3:26 remains the world record, and Morceli.

Guerrouj also would have been on the track at Charlety Stadium if he had not fallen ill and withdrawn. Earlier this month, Ngeny pushed Guerrouj to the finish line and a world record in the mile in Rome. In the process, Ngeny improved his personal best at the distance by an astonishing seven seconds.

It was no fluke. It rarely is in athletics. The lungs and legs either have it in them or they do not. Just as Daniel Komen was the Kenyan of the moment in the 1996 world championships, Ngeny is the Kenyan to watch with the world championships in Seville, Spain, looming in late August. Guerrouj, a Moroccan who wants to build on the work of a countryman, Said Aouita, is at his peak, but it appears that he will soon have company.

''Since Rome, I'm afraid of no one,'' said Ngeny, a farmer's son who was invited to train with Kenya's star steeplechaser Moses Kiptanui in 1997 and is based in the London suburbs.

Morceli is also a man of multiple continents: he is married to Swiss runner Patricia Bieri and a frequent visitor to the mountains of the United States and to the Atlas mountains in his native Algeria. Frustrated by his loss of dominance and the loss of his records and titles to Guerrouj, he considered retirement last year, and after deciding to continue, he had to revise his plans after an car crash in April.

It happened on a coastal road near Algiers while he was driving his mother in one of the Mercedes he won after becoming world 1,500-meter champion. He skidded off the road, and according to his older brother and coach Abderrahmane, the car flipped three times. One of Morceli's younger brothers died in a car crash in 1997, shortly before the world championships in Athens.

In the April crash, Morceli's mother aggravated a back injury; he suffered contusions and cuts and required stitches in his head. He had to stop all training for nearly a month and did not compete again until July 11 in a small meet in Germany.

''If you see the car, you would realize how lucky he was,'' Abderrahmane said.

Though he was unable to match Ngeny's final burst in the last 200 meters on Wednesday, Morceli did not look disappointed at finishing second in a time of 3:30.91.

''I can't help being pleased with my performance after seven months away,'' he said. ''I wanted to test my level against Ngeny, and now I must work to get the rhythm back that I had before.''

Morceli plans to race in Seville, as do nearly all of the world's best, which helps explain why the Golden League is not proving as powerful a magnet as the organizers hoped. The idea behind placing seven of the Grand Prix meets on a pedestal was to oblige the stars to commit and compete against each other consistently. And to convince them it is worth their effort, $1 million jackpot is on offer to be shared by those who sweep their event in Golden League meets.

That is a great deal to ask, particularly from men's sprinters and those in the field events. Several stars, including Michael Johnson, have declined to even make an attempt. And after three legs, only four athletes are still in the running: Marion Jones in the women's 200 meters; Gabriela Szabo in the women's 3,000 meters; Wilson Kipketer in the men's 800 meters; and Bernard Barmasai in the 3,000 steeplechase.

Jones, the American who wants to win four gold medals in Seville, had an easier time winning her 200 on Wednesday than Maurice Greene had winning his.

Jones took early control and won in 21.99 seconds while Europe's top sprinter, Christine Arron of France, finished a distant fifth. Greene, the world-record holder in the men's 100, trailed early and was pushed hard down the stretch by Francis Obikwelu, a 20-year-old Nigerian.

On the eve of this meet, Greene had predicted that he would beat his personal best of 19.86. But on a relatively slow track and on a relatively off night, he would not come close, finishing in 20.13 seconds.

- Christopher Clarey, International Herald Tribune

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Last modified: July 30, 1999