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September 27, 2000
Morceli stumbles out of 1500mThe Rediff Team
Thus far, the afternoon session of track and field on day 12 at Stadium Australia has been newsy more for mishaps, than wins.
Barely 10 minutes after American sprint legend Gail Devers crashed out of the 100m semifinals, the diminutive Noureddine Morceli stumbled out of the semifinals of the 1500m.
A sad way to go, for the runner rated the greatest middle-distance runner of all time.
Morceli, heading into the turn, was lying fifth and looking comfortable when he unaccountably stumbled, lost his momentum, and pulled up. And, in a reprise of the earlier Gail Devers incident, ambled off the track, while the others raced on for the finish line.
Morceli was in Sydney hoping for one last hurrah. Having held the 1500-meter, mile, 2000-meter 3000-meter world records in his time (the 2000m record still stands in his name), Morceli has in recent times had the mortification of being upstaged by the Moroccan Hicham el Guerrouj.
Of his favourite events, only the 1500m is an Olympic event, and Morceli was the defending gold medallist, having beaten El Guerrouj after the Moroccan tripped during the final lap. Morceli thus became the first Algerian to win gold.
El Guerrouj -- who easily won his own heat in the event today in 3:37.61-- has in fact been a bit of a nemisis for Morceli, whose record over the mile lasted six years before being broken by the Moroccan last year. A year earlier, El Guerrouj broke Morceli's 1500-meter world record.
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