El Guerrouj enjoys his second coronation

It was on the track in the Athenian Olympic Stadium that Hicham El Guerrouj first showed his Midas touch, striking 1500m gold at the 1997 World Championships. It has taken the great Moroccan master of the middle distances a further seven years to bring his power to bear in Olympic competition but in the space of four days he has emerged from the Greek arena as one of the golden all-time greats of the track.

It was on the track in the Athenian Olympic Stadium that Hicham El Guerrouj first showed his Midas touch, striking 1500m gold at the 1997 World Championships. It has taken the great Moroccan master of the middle distances a further seven years to bring his power to bear in Olympic competition but in the space of four days he has emerged from the Greek arena as one of the golden all-time greats of the track.

Having ended his long quest for the 1500m crown last Tuesday, the 29-year-old added the 5,000m version to it with a supreme performance in the final on Saturday night. Launching his decisive move off the final bend, El Guerrouj sprinted past Kenenisa Bekele, the 10,000m winner, to secure victory as the champion of champions and a place in the record books alongside Paavo Nurmi. Only the finest of all the "Flying Finns" had previously completed the Olympic 1500m and 5,000m double, on the Stade Colombes track in Paris in 1924.

"Two days ago I received a message from a friend, saying in 1997 Athens discovered the prince and in 2004 it will discover the king," El Guerrouj reflected. "When I came to the stadium I was thinking of Paavo Nurmi. He was a great legend. He made history in his time.

"I was telling myself, 'This is a great day for you. If you want to get this medal, do it.' I have always dreamed of being an Olympic champion and now I have done it twice. It's fantastic.

"When I lost the 1500m final in Sydney I found it very hard to start running again. For four years I have worked hard for this. In July I was suffering from breathing problems and I did not even know if I would be here. Now I am as happy as a child."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering