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Haile Gebrselassie defeats Paul Tergat at the 2000 Olympics

Top 10 contests from the Sydney Olympics

#2 – Men’s 1500m

Ever since falling with a lap to go in the 1500m final in Atlanta, Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj had dominated metric miling. He had won the two world titles leading into Sydney and was world record holder in the 1500m (3:26.00) from 1999 and mile (3:43.13) from 1998. He had only been defeated once, in the 1997 grand prix final, and had the world’s fastest time of the year coming into the Games, a 3:27.21 in Zurich six weeks prior.

Kenya’s Noah Ngeny had shown strong form on the European circuit, with fast wins in Rome (3:29.99) and Rieti (3:30.42). But perhaps tellingly, he had also raced successfully under distance on multiple occasions, including reducing his 800m personal best to 1:44.49 in winning Oslo. He had been runner up to El Guerrouj at the previous year’s world championships.

At the 1999 world championships, which El Guerrouj won in a very fast 3:27.65, his team mate Adil Kaouch had led the field through 800m in 1:52, sacrificing his performance as a pacemaker before finishing last in 3:47. Come Sydney, it was Youssef Baba to provide the service, but ultimately, not as effectively. The first lap passed in 54.14 seconds but then slowed to 60.63s, allowing the field to bunch.

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El Guerrouj turned up the pace on the third lap, covered in 56.90s, but Ngeny, his team mate Bernard Lagat and Frenchman Mehdi Baala were all close behind and in contention. Coming off the final turn Ngeny executed his finishing kick, a near textbook example, moving onto El Guerrouj’s shoulder before sprinting to the lead, and gold down lane two. El Guerrouj held on for silver, with Lagat having to run wide into lane three on his run home and not quite having the legs to catch the Moroccan.

Ngeny’s winning time of 3:32.07 was an Olympic record.

Next -> #1 – Men’s 10000m
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