News11 Mar 2001

The final of the men's 3000 metres


Men's 3000 metres final

After two seasons of inactivity indoors, Hicham El Guerrouj capped his brief return to the roofed stadium circuit with a splendid win in the 3000 metres, holding off an exciting challenge from his former countryman, Mohammed Mourhit of Belgium.

El Guerrouj's winning time was 7:37.74, as Mourhit clocked 7:38.94 for a new Belgian national record.

The Moroccan used others as pacemakers for more than half the race, taking the lead only at the 1950-meter mark. But that was where he also tossed in a 28.0 lap to shake away all but the most resolute challengers, as he passed the two-kilometer mark in 5:12.98.

At this moment, the scenario behind El Guerrouj found Sydney 5000-metre champion Million Wolde of Ethiopia leading Mourhit and Spain's Alberto Garcia as the chase for the medals began. Within a lap, Wolde began to drop back, turning it into a three-man race.

El Guerrouj wasn't able to forge a lead of more than ten metres during the last kilometer, as Mourhit chewed up all but one or two metres of the difference.

At this point, it had all of the trappings of an intra-Moroccan grudge match.

As the pair entered the final two laps, El Guerrouj started to pull away with a 28.5 final circuit, and Mourhit did not respond, and Morocco had its first gold medal of the weekend.

Running closely behind the lead pair, Garcia posted a personal-best of 7:39.96 for the bronze medal.

Also in the final stages, El Guerrouj's erstwhile training partner, John Mayock of Britain, was able to overtake the still-fading Wolde and capture fourth place in 7:44.08, ahead of the Ethiopian's 7:44.54.

The Olympic bronze medallist in the 1500, Kenyan Bernard Lagat, took sixth in 7:45.52, ahead of current European 3000 champion Mark Carroll of Ireland, who registered a 7:46.79.