I love the climate and I love the stadium …”
11 July 2002 - Hicham El Guerrouj is excited, and ready, to attack the world record for 1 Mile at the IAAF Golden League Meeting tomorrow night.
“In between Golden League meetings – when I have a full week break - I usually go back to Morocco. After Paris, I went back to Rabat. I was pleased to see my father there and have the chance to sit down and talk with him. Unfortunately I couldn’t see my mother because she was in Berkane.
We did a very good training session on Tuesday, which I was particularly pleased with, and then flew to Rome. I landed yesterday and this morning I was busy with a press conference at 11.30 and then straight to the training camp.
I was happy to win the race in Paris. I have a lot of respect for Bernard Lagat. The way he always follows the pace and stays close to me is very motivating. It makes me want to give my very best each time I race him. Entering that race, I didn’t focus on him though. I wanted to win the race no matter who was in it. I wanted to prove I’m the best Miler in the world and I did. The atmosphere in the Stade de France was something special as well. You know there are a lot of Moroccans and Northern Africans there and I felt a bit like at home.
For tomorrow’s race I hope I’ll break the Mile world record. It is difficult but I’ve already broken two world records here in Rome and as the saying goes, ‘things happen in threes’ so we shall see. Tomorrow is also a special day for Morocco as it will be King Mohammed VI’s wedding. I was invited to attend but unfortunately I cannot go as I am here in Rome. With God’s help I hope I can offer him a very special wedding present tomorrow.
But what I really want though is to make a good show, to give something to the public. I want them to enjoy the meeting. I represent a country of 30 million people and I am proud to be their idol. I just want to give the affection back.
For the future, I can tell you that I have definitely made my mind up. I will run both the 1500m and the 5000m in Paris at the World Championships and in Athens at the Olympic Games. The IAAF has already ratified next year’s timetable so that I can attempt such a double. I hope the Olympic timetable will permit me to do the same.
That’s all for now. I shall see you all on the track tomorrow night. I love Rome, I love the climate and the stadium so with God’s help it should be a great race.”
Hicham El Guerrouj