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)
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.
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.
Photo: George Herringshaw
The 1996 Olympics, Atlanta, USA