Athletics: Record hat-trick for El Guerrouj

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The Independent Online
HICHAM EL GUERROUJ broke the 2,000m world record with a time of 4min 44.79sec at the IAAF Golden League meeting here last night. The 24- year-old Moroccan, who won his second successive 1500m world title in Seville last month, broke the previous best time of 4:47.88, set by the Algerian Noureddine Morceli in Paris in July 1995.

El Guerrouj now holds the records for the mile, which he broke in Rome this year, 1500m and 2,000m - all previously held by Morceli.

Wilson Kipketer and Gabriela Szabo completed their seventh Golden League victories to share a $1m (pounds 625,000) jackpot for becoming the only two athletes to have won all seven events in the series. The Dane Kipketer and Szabo of Romania outclassed the opposition again in the men's 800m and the women's 5,000m respectively.

The American sprinter Marion Jones, who had been in the hunt after five events, ended her season early through injury while the Kenyan Bernard Barmasai was ruled ineligible by the International Amateur Athletic Federation after saying he had asked compatriot Christopher Koskei to let him win the 3,000m steeplechase in Zurich last month.

Kipketer, the 800m world champion and world record holder, let his countryman Frederick Onyancha set the early pace and made his move with some 300 metres remaining in the two-lap race. Nobody could follow him when he kicked and he won in 1min 44.03sec, resisting a storming finish from another Kenyan, Japhet Kimutai.

Szabo claimed her race in similar fashion, using her trademark kick some 300m from home to win in 14min 40.59sec - the fastest time in the world this year. As in the Seville final, her close friend, Zahra Ouaziz of Morocco, had to settle for second place, in 14:41.34.

Szabo said: "It's something special for me - it's a fantastic feeling. It was a hard race for me tonight, but I am strong and I trained hard for this. I was a bit nervous before the race because I could not afford not to win this one. The money is not that important. Having good friends and being in good health is what really matters. The money goes, friends stay."

The double sprint world champion, Maurice Greene, opted for the 200m and won easily in 20.21, beating Claudinei Da Silva of Brazil into second place. The world 100m silver medallist, Bruny Surin of Canada, won the shorter sprint in 10.07sec.

Diane Modahl added to British disappointment when she could finish only ninth in the women's 800m behind Maria Mutola, who won in 1:57.56.

Results, Digest, page 22