I always dreamed of being
one of the best athletes in the history of running,
or of the 1,500 metres. El Guerrouj was the guy that every athlete
wanted to be like. El Guerrouj is the greatest
1,500m athlete of all time. Hicham had an
Olympic obsession. The Olympics were
his Holy Grail. Hicham is a warrior
and a warrior never surrenders, he never gives up. (LEGENDS LIVE ON) (RABAT
MOROCCO) So…here are my two
Olympic medals. When I touch them,
I touch a lot of things. The image that always returns is the day I decided to leave
my mother and father, tears were running
down his face and I didn’t want to betray
his trust in me. All this is for my country. (BERKANE
MOROCCO) I was born in 1974 in Berkane, a tiny town
in north-eastern Morocco. I grew up in a small,
very modest family. I started running
at age 12 or 13. There were the school games. and I ran incredibly well,
without any training. I came in second. We didn’t know what was
going on in Hicham’s head. He did the first race and after he signed up
at a track and field club. He started training, entered competitions and
that’s where it all started. I wanted to make my mark on my country’s history
through running. The Olympics
were a reference for me. El Guerrouj started
competing internationally in the senior ranks in 1995 and a year later he was ready
to be Olympic champion. (ATLANTA 1996) I was young, I was just 21 and I went with one dream… ..to beat Morceli and win my first Olympic medal. I didn’t have much experience so I mishandled it. When the bell rang, El Guerrouj decided
to accelerate. Morceli didn’t get out
of the way. El Guerrouj bumped
into Morceli and fell. It was like a nightmare. That left a terrible scar on what would turn out
to be an incredible career. After Atlanta, I wanted my revenge. I had to prove I was the
fastest man in this discipline. (BETWEEN 1996 AND 2000, HICHAM
CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES) I once read he won 82 or 84 races
in a row without losing. (IN 1998, HE SETS A NEW 1,500M
WORLD RECORD AT 3:26:00) In the late ’90s, he was
at the height of his career. (HICHAM ARRIVES IN SYDNEY
UNDEFEATED FOR 4 YEARS) There was so much pressure, I was the favourite
and when I arrived in Sydney, I was already exhausted
physically and mentally. I ultimately wasn’t ready.
I couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t expecting to lose
in the final 40 or 50m. Deep down, I was sad because I couldn’t make
my dream come true. The curse was real! It wasn’t some
journalist’s invention. Hicham el Guerrouj,
10 years of running, is only defeated twice
in the 1,500 – the two Olympic finals. Unparalleled domination of middle-distance running, but an equally crazy curse! (RABAT
OF ATHLETICS) The following weeks were hard. But my morale slowly returned, my love of the sport,
and I wanted to save my dream. I started to train hard
to return to the path of victory. He had a military routine. He’d train in the morning, nap, then train in the evening. He’d focus 200% of his energy
on the next Olympics. When I entered that stadium, I had a single objective – to win that medal. Hicham El Guerrouj
is smarter than everybody. He knows how to handle
the pressure. I tried to control the race. I didn’t want
to take any risks. I absolutely wanted
to avoid any falls. At 800m from the finish line, I decided to take charge and attack the peloton. When it came down
to two laps to go, with just 800 meters to go, Hicham El Guerrouj
took the lead and he took the lead so hard and he was going faster
every 100 metres. He was progressively
going faster. Bernard, I knew he’d be
my number one rival. I felt he was there. When Lagat changes lanes,
he starts to pass him. Everyone thinks, “There’s the curse again. He’ll
never be Olympic champion.” I was just dead even with him
at about 250 metres to go, then we just kept going. When I looked at the line,
it was getting closer, closer. I thought of my daughter,
who was in the stadium, I thought of my wife,
my parents, my first races… When I crossed the finish line, I felt incredible,
incredible relief. All these images of my athletic
life were before me. Falling in Atlanta, losing in Sydney… ..my sacrifice. I felt like the others
were happy for me. They understood how much
I deserved this medal. And it was really fabulous. He won gold. But he didn’t stop there. He repeated it a few days later
WINS 5,000M GOLD MEDAL) Hicham is an example
and I’d like to be like him. Berkane has always been
close to my heart. It’s where I was born,
it’s where I started running. Today, we’re trying
to give back a little of what the city gave me. We’re organising
a half-marathon and an annual 10km race
for the city. I think sports can play
an exceptional role today and be a source
of upward mobility. Thanks to the Olympics, I’ve become what I am today.

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Dennis Veasley

32 thoughts on “Hicham El Guerrouj continues the run to inspire his native Morocco | Legends Live On”

  1. Si quiere aprender a jugar al fútbol yo me ofrezco a enseñarle y él me dice cómo le bajó el récord de los 1500 jajaja saludos al genioooo de los 1500 metros

  2. Legends like this are what inspire me to keep going 🙌. I’ve just started a channel to give other track advice to become great.

  3. This is a really cool idea and I’m glad to see more about Hicham but please fix the subtitles. They are ahead of the audio by at least 20 seconds so it is really hard to follow

  4. Please fix the subtitles on this, they are totally messed up (I understand French, but English-speaking viewers can't watch this).

  5. the subtitles dont work but thankfully people from 🇲🇦 speak french that is much easier to understand idk why or how hahahha

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