Wednesday, September 21, 2011

IN ALGERIA, IT COSTS NOTHING TO LOOK TO THE FUTURE




Noureddine Morceli Casual wear
From ftp cs rochester.edu


Noureddine Morceli had dominated the 1500m between 1990 and 1992, winning the 1991 world title and setting a new world record late in the 1992 season. The only major shortcoming in Morceli's record had come in the 1992 Olympics, when he finished a disappointing 7th behind Fermin Cacho (Spain).
(Ron Casey at sporting-heroes.net)
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  the world's premier middle - distance runner. The defeat conceded at Barcelona sticks in his craw.
(ftp cs rochester.edu)
Morceli showed no such weakness in 1993, finishing the season undefeated and completely dominating his rivals. He recorded the fastest six 1500m times of the season and the fastest four in the mile. In addition, he set the season's fastest time in both the 1000m and 3000m, where he narrowly missed the world record on each occasion. The major event held that year was the World Championships at Stuttgart, and although Morceli was the overwhelming favourite, it seemed that if there was a threat it would probably come from Cacho, who had finished second behind Morceli in the 1500m at Zurich on 4 August.
(Ron Casey at sporting-heroes.net)


World 1500m title in 1993
Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw
From sporting-heroes.net


At Stuttgart, both Morceli and Cacho won their heats of the 1500m on 19 August, which they then followed by winning their respective semi-finals the following day. Although the final on 22 August started at a relatively slow pace, Morceli was always in complete control, sprinting away in the last lap to win easily and retain his world title. After the finish, Noureddine paused to embrace Cacho, who had led the rest of the field home to claim the silver medal.
Following Stuttgart, Morceli embarked on a concerted campaign to try to break the world record for the mile. At Berlin, on 27 August, he set a new personal best of 3min 46.78se, which he followed with a 3min 47.30sec clocking at Brussels on 3 September. Success came two days later at Rieti, where he recorded 3min 44.39sec to demolish the world record by nearly two seconds.
(Ron Casey at sporting-heroes.net)
Morceli narrowly missed his own world record when he won the Mediterranean Games in Narbonne in 3:29.20 min. By that time Morceli had set himself a new aim: to break Steve Cram's eight-year-old record over the Mile (3:46.32). Throughout the season he was virtually without any serious competitors. In Monaco he narrowly missed the 3000m world record. There was even talk that he might skip the World Championships in order to concentrate fully on the world-record hunt. However, in the end he decided to take part.
In the following weeks he failed twice to set a new world record over the Mile in Berlin and Brussels. But just two days after the race in Brussels he astonished everyone by crushing the old record with a time of 3:44.39.
In 1994, he set the new 3000 m world record, clocking 7:25.11. He also experimented successfully with the 5000m. In Zurich he outsprinted the rest of the field to take the victory and also won the 5000 m race in Rieti. The only defeat of the season came when Morceli opted for an unusual 800m appearance in Cologne. Morceli broke the 2000m world record in the following season, setting a new mark of 4:47.88. Nine days later Morceli set the last world record of his magnificent career, when he lowered his own 1500m record to 3:27.37 in Nice. Only a few days after this he almost broke the record again when he triumphed in 3:27.52 in Monaco. Later on that year he defended easily the 1500m World Champion title in Gothenburg. Shortly after, Morceli tried to improve on his Mile record in Zurich but did not succeed.
(english.turkcebilgi.com)
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic, Morceli increased the tempo around the turn of the 1500m final and the stage was set for a titanic last lap as Cacho and El Guerroudj moved into position. The first precursor of trouble occurred at the head of the straight as El Guerroudj swung past Cacho and pulled up on Morceli's shoulder instigating brief contact as the Algerian quickened his gait and held his position. El Guerroudj moved out a bit and was running on the outside of lane one when disaster struck 25m from the bell. Closely scrutinizing several video replays reveals an infinitesimal contact between Morceli's heel and El Guerroudj's knee a stride before the mishap. This was enough to disrupt Morceli's next stride as his right foot hit his left calf and ricocheted about a foot to the right and into the young Moroccan's path. El Guerroudj's spikes caught Morceli's heel and he crashed to the Mondo leaving 83,000 mouths agape in Olympic Stadium. Blasting the curve in 12.84 the Algerian world record holder opened up 5 meters on Cacho and clocked 25.9 for the penultimate 200. The lead stretched to 10 meters before Morceli coasted in as he realized the elusive Olympic gold medal was finally in his grasp. While we will never know what might have transpired over the last 400 meters, Morceli's easing-up last lap of 53.5 gave every indication that he would have been extremely hard to beat.
Morceli admitted that the win was his only concern,"I wanted to run a tactical race, to save energy and finish with a very strong last lap. If I was challenged that final 200 would have been 25 instead of 27. I was ready to run 1:46 off that pace."
(Ron Casey at sporting-heroes.net)


The final lap Olympic 1500m Final
The 1996 Olympics, Atlanta, USA
Photo: George Herringshaw
From sporting-heroes.net


1500m Gold
The 1996 Olympics, Atlanta, USA
From sporting-heroes.net


After hurdling El Guerroudj, Cacho regained form remarkably well and nearly matched Morceli closing in 53.7. "I was in good position when El Guerroudj fell. I had to jump over him and Morceli got a 5 meter lead. After that it was impossible to catch him." Twenty meters back, the rejuvenated Abdi Bile battled with the Kenyan trio of Stephen Kipkorir, Laban Rotich and William Tanui. Bile moved ahead on the backstretch, but Kipkorir prevailed on the runin. "I just tried to be close to Morceli," the 24 year old Kenyan noted, "but it wasn't enough today."
El Guerroudj was thoroughly devastated after the race and was unable to offer a post-race assessment of the catastrophe. Morceli who also had a forgettable first Olympics said "I feel sorry for him, Hachim is a great athlete with a great future."
(Sean Hartnett, correspondent for Track and Field News at ftp:ftp.cs.rochester.edu)
It is said that all good things must eventually come to an end, and so it was that the dominance that Noureddine Morceli had enjoyed over the world's middle distance runners for the seven seasons from 1990 to 1996 finally faded away in the 1997 season. The signs had been there during the 1996 season with the emergence of the talented young Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who had brought Morceli's winning streak at 1500m/1 mile, which started in 1992, to an end when he defeated him over 1500m at the Grand Prix final in Milan on 7 September 1996.
El Guerrouj took over Morceli's mantle as the world's premier middle-distance runner in 1997, while the latter tried to stem the tide of his gradual decline. In the World Championships at Athens, Morceli easily won his heat on 3 August and the second semi-final the following day. El Guerrouj had won the first semi-final, but their anticipated showdown in the final did not live up to expectations, with El Guerrouj winning easily, while Morceli finished fourth, just pipped out of third place by young Spaniard Reyes Estevez in the final strides. Morceli had a reasonable season in 1998, recording a number of wins in minor meets, but he did not compete against the majority of the top runners.
Although Morceli's career was moving towards its inevitable end, he was not prepared to go quietly, and in 1999, at Seville, he qualified for his fifth straight 1500m final at a World Championships, where he dropped out at the bell when well out of medal contention. Noureddine's last appearance at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, where he jogged in last in his semi-final after being involved in a collision in the home straight.
(Ron Casey at sporting-heroes.net)
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, and breaking the mythical 13 minutes barrier for 5000m, 7:30 for 3000m, and 3:30 for 1500m. 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. Later, 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 gave Algeria a bronze medal. In Algeria, it costs nothing to look to the future.
(ftp cs rochester.edu)
Noureddine Morceli was unbeaten in 45 finals at 1500/1 mile from 1992 to 1996. In that period he set 6 world records (1500, 1 mile, 2000, 3000 and 1500 indoor).
He won overall GP in 1994 and 4 times 1500/ 1 mile GP and won GWG 1994 and 1998 at 1 mile. He was coached by elder brother Abderrahmane (3:36.26 in 1977).
(iaaf.org)

Personal Bests:
1500 meters: 3:27.37
Mile (1608m): 3:44.39 World Record (9-5-93)
800 meters: 1:44.79
1000 meters: 2:13.73
1000 meters: 2:15.26 World Indoor Record (2-22-92)
2000 meters: 4:47.88 World Record
3000 meters: 7:25.11
5000 meters: 13:03.85
1988: 1500m World Junior Championships Silver Medallist
1989: Fastest junior in world
1994: Overall Grand Prix Winner
1995: 1500m World Champion
1995: 1500m IAAF Grand Prix Winner
1996: 1500m Olympic Champion
1996: Second at IAAF Grand Prix
(Marco Steybe at steybe.freeservers.com)

Note: I found these images (above) from all over the web. If you own a photo’s copyright and think this page violates Fair Use, please contact me.


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