Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco celebrates winning the 1500m final (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Hicham El Guerrouj and Amina Ait Hammou elected Moroccan sportspersons of the year

Rabat, MoroccoMiddle distance runners Hicham El Guerrouj and Amina Ait Hammou have been chosen as best sportsman and sportswoman of the year in Morocco following a vote organised by the Moroccan Press Agency (MAP) and the Moroccan Radio and Television (RTM).

It was only logical that four-time World 1500m champion Hicham El Guerrouj be elected as best athlete of the year for the seventh year running (1997 to 2003).

Hicham accumulated 83 points in this vote which comprised 35 different media. Runner-up with 53 points was Marathon World champion Jaouad Gharib.

El Guerrouj who also won silver at the 5000m in Paris before being elected World Athlete of the Year for the third year running declared:

"2003 has been one of the very best years in my whole career. I am very proud to have won a fourth World title at 1500m and being once again the World best athlete of the year. But despite all my World records, my World Championships titles, indoor and outdoor, and all of the awards I have been presented with, I will only be totally happy if I win the Olympic gold medal in Athens next August.”

"I will work as hard as I can not only to try and accomplish the dream of my life to win the 1500m but I will also attempt to double up and win the 5000m gold as well.”

Behind Jaouad Gharib, who unexpectedly won the Marathon gold in Paris, the Moroccan press voted tennis player Younès El Aynaoui (41 points).

In the women’s standings the oldest of the Ait Hammou sisters, Amina, was elected as best Moroccan sports woman with 60 points.

Ait Hammou was the revelation of Moroccan middle distance running in 2003 but slightly missed out on the podium in Paris World Championships where she finished fourth in the 800m final.

Ait Hammou also came third at the World Athletics Final in Monaco and has now her eyes set on two main objectives in 2004: the World Indoor Championships in Budapest and the Olympic Games in Athens.

Her younger sister Seltana, who was a semi finalist in the Paris 800m, was voted in third place with 19 points just behind Mouna Benabderrassoul (Taekwondo) who was the 2002 Moroccan Athlete of the year.

1-Hicham El Guerrouj (Athletics) 83 Pts
2-Jaouad Gharib (Athletics) 53
3-Younès El Aynaoui (Tennis)   41
4-Mustapha Chadili (Football)  13
5-Merouane Zmama (Football)   5
5-Nabil Masloub (Football)    5
7-Jawad Zairi (Football)        4
8-Safouane Attaf (Judo)        3
9-Noureddine Naybet (Football) 2
9-Nadir Lamyaghri(Football)    2

1-Amina Ait Hammou (Athletics)     68 Pts
2-Mouna Benabderrasoul (Taekwondo)  20
3-Seltana Ait Hammou (Athletics)   19
4-Siham Hilali (Athletics)         15 
5-Meryem Alaoui Selsouli (Athletics)7 
5-Ibtissam Zaoui (Judo)             7
7-Zhor El kamch (Athletics)        6
8-Mounia Bourguig (Taekwondo)       3
9-Bahia Mouhtassine (Tennis)        3