ATHENS, Greece -- Hicham El Guerrouj became the first man in
80 years to win the 1,500 and 5,000 meters at one Olympics, holding
up two fingers in triumph Saturday after outsprinting the world
record holder down the final straightaway of the 5,000.
But El Guerrouj, who won the 1,500 on Tuesday, was only the
second person within a half-hour to pull off a rare middle-distance
double. Briton Kelly Holmes won the 1,500 just before El Guerrouj's
race, adding to the 800 title she won on Monday.
"I feel like I'm going to wake up tomorrow and have to run the
whole damn thing over again," Holmes said. "It's so surreal. I
won, but I was so mentally and physically drained."
Despite victories in the men's and women's 1,600-meter relays,
it was another disappointing night at the track for an American
team that came to Athens expecting a sweep of the four relays.
Instead, they took gold in both 1,600-meter relays.
Breaux Greer, who had hoped to become the first American to win
the javelin since Cyrus Young in 1952, finished last of the 12
finalists with a best throw of 243 feet, 11 inches -- nearly 43 feet
off his personal best. Greer was competing despite a torn knee
ligament that required him to wear a plastic brace on his right
The U.S. team ended up with 24 track and field medals, the most
since 30 in 1992. The men had 18 of those -- also the best showing
by Americans since 1992 -- but the women's six medals were the
fewest since three in 1976.
El Guerrouj, a Moroccan, passed Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia with
about 50 meters left and finished in 13 minutes, 14.39 seconds,
smiling and extending his arms in triumph as he crossed the finish
line. He kissed his hands and his right knee before touching his
head to the track in prayer.
Then he took off his new shoes and ran a victory lap in bare but
bandaged feet. He had worn shoes that were too small during
Bekele, who was trying to become the first man in 24 years to
win the 5,000 and 10,000 at an Olympics, finished second in
13:14.59. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who led until the final lap, won
bronze in 13:15.10.
"I was quite tired because of the 10,000 meters and the semifinals (of the 5,000)," Bekele said. "It was not an easy race. The Ethiopians tried to run together, but today that wasn't enough for me to win."
The only other man ever to win the 1,500 and 5,000 in an
Olympics was Paavo Nurmi, who did it in 1924.
Holmes broke free of the pack in the final 100 meters to capture
gold in the 1,500 in 3:57.90. The 34-year-old former army sergeant
became the third woman in Olympic history to win both events at one
games, joining Svetlana Masterkova in 1996 and Tatyana Kazankina in
Tatyana Tomashova of Russia won the silver in 3:58.12. Maria
Cioncan of Romania got the bronze in 3:58.39.
Other winners Saturday, the last night of track and field action
at Olympic Stadium, included a pair of Russians -- Yuriy
Borzakovskiy rallied from fourth place on the final straightaway to
win the men's 800 meters and Yelena Slesarenko set an Olympic
record of 6-9 to win gold in the women's high jump.
Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway won the javelin.
"I didn't know that I was going to win today," Slesarenko said. "I came in full of hopes and I achieved my goal."
Two-time world champion Hestrie Cloete of South Africa won the
silver with a jump of 6-7½. Viktoriya Styopina of Ukraine won the
bronze with a jump at the same height, but finished below Cloete
because she had one more miss.
Amy Acuff of the United States was fourth, clearing 6-6¼