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Hicham El Guerrouj Retires After 19 Year Career


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El Guerrouj finishes great career  

Double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj has announced his retirement.

The Moroccan, the 1500m world record holder, claimed a brilliant 1500m and 5,000m double at the Athens Games to add to his four 1500m world titles.

But the man thought to be the greatest 1500m runner of all time has not raced since Athens because of injury.

At a news conference, a tearful El Guerrouj described his decision as "historic and difficult", saying he was crying out of "joy and not sadness".

El Guerrouj said he had not slept well since winning his doble gold in Athens.

"I took the decision to retire because I suddenly began to sleep well three weeks ago," he said El Guerrouj.

"During this period I was in a state of flux, I just did not know whether I should run or stop. Now it is done, I am relieved."

He added: "For 16 years, I've done sports. Now I want to start a new life. I will return to another world whose horizons I do not know."

A back injury forced the 31-year-old out of this year's World Indoor Championships in Moscow.

El Guerrouj also left it late before deciding to withdraw from the 2005 Worlds because of a virus. He then declared he would take the rest of the year off before racing a farewell season in 2006.

The "King of the Mile" felt he had nothing left to achieve after his historic double triumph in Athens.

El Guerrouj became the first man since Finnish legend Paavo Nurmi in 1924 to complete the 1500m-5,000m double.

EL GUERROUJ FACTS

Born: 14 September 1974

Personal best:

1500m - 3:26.00mins (WR)

5,000m - 12:50.24mins

World Athletics medals:

2003 - 1500m gold, 5,000m silver

2001 - 1500m gold

1999 - 1500m gold

1997 - 1500m gold

1995 - 1500m silver

Olympic medals:

2004 - 1500m gold, 5,000m gold

2000 Olympics - 1500m silver

World Indoor medals:

1995 - 1500m gold

1997 - 1500m gold

2001 - 3,000m gold

But it did not come easily as he was forced to out-sprint world record holder Kenenisa Bekele in the final few metres of the 5,000m just days after fending off Bernard Lagat to claim the 1500m title.

El Guerrouj's Greek triumphs made amends for his disastrous previous Olympic campaigns.

At the 1996 Games in Atlanta he tripped on the final lap of the 1500m final to finish last.

Four years later in Sydney, a poor tactical race saw him surrender the gold to Kenya's Noah Ngeny and break down in tears on the track.

El Guerrouj's dominance of the 1500m saw him notch up four consecutive world titles in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003.

His world record time of three minutes 26 seconds, which he set eight years ago in Rome, still stands.

The Moroccan also holds the mile record (3:43.13) as well as the 2,000m, indoor 1500m and mile marks.

Away from the track, El Guerrouj is a representative for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Unicef and the International Olympic Committee.

BBC News

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Double Olympic champion El Guerrouj retires

Mon May 22, 2006 9:05 PM BST

By Michel Debono

CASABLANCA (Reuters) - Morocco's Olympic 5,000 and 1,500 metres champion Hicham El Guerrouj announced his retirement from athletics on Monday.

"I am quitting competition," a tearful El Guerrouj told a news conference.

"I hope the authorities and Moroccan athletes will continue to work so Moroccan athletics continues to be strong," he said.

"I have no willingness or motivation to continue competing. I am quitting racing to spend more time with my family and focus on my business."

The 31-year-old, considered the greatest 1,500 metres runner in history, has not competed since the 2004 Athens Games.

He missed last season with a virus and pulled out of March's indoor world championships in Moscow with a back injury.

"El Guerrouj does not have the form or the strength to train for such a high level of competition and win. He has to quit the running track," his coach Abdelkader Kada said.

This and more from Reuters

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El Guerrouj sleeps easy as he hangs up his spikes

Mon 22 May, 9:59 PM

CASABLANCA, Morocco (AFP) - Moroccan athletics legend Hicham El Guerrouj announced his retirement from the sport admitting that he would sleep easy over his decision.

The 31-year-old won double Olympic gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004 - taking the 1500metres and the 5000m - and is the world record holder for the 1500 metres, mile and 2000m outdoors and 1500m and mile indoors.

The four-time world outdoor 1500m champion had barely raced since the Olympics said it had been a difficult decision to take.

"This moment when I announce my official retirement is historic and difficult," said El Guerrouj.

"I would like to thank all those who have helped me throughout my career."

"I am officially ending my 19 year career where we have lived you (the Moroccans) and me some really happy times.

"I thank my family, my wife, my daughter and the King.

"My tears today (Monday) are tears of joy and not of sadness. I will return to another world whose horizons I do not know."

However despite his claims they were tears of joy he had to stop abruptly saying 'I cannot find the words'.

However he managed to gather himself and reveal how he came to reach his decision.

"I took the decision to retire because I suddenly began to sleep well three weeks ago," said El Guerrouj, who revealed that since winning double gold in Athens he had not slept at all well and has seen him not race since.

"During this period I was in a state of flux, I just did not know whether I should run or stop, now it is done, I am relieved."

In the immediate future El Guerrouj said he would like to help young Moroccan athletes develop and try and reach his heady heights.

"I would like to pass on all that I learnt during my career.

"It is important that the young Moroccan athletes believe that anything is possible. Sport is always a source of hope."

APF on Yahoo News

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<font color='#34456313'>

APF on Yahoo News</font>

Its the end of an era for 1500m running around the world. Lets hope new talent like Nick Willis from New Zealand can continue this tradition and get New Zealand middle distance running back on track!!

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El Guerrouj took the 1500 metres on from the great Said Aouita. Who will Morocco's successor to the great Hicham El Guerrouj be? His Olympic gold medals in Athens finally cemented his well-deserved place in the pantheon of middle distance running legends.

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