Said Aouita on the way to 5000m Olympic gold in Los Angeles in 1984 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Rabat, Morocco

Said Aouita - Moroccan sportsman of the century

Said Aouita, former track Olympic and world champion, has been named Morocco's sportsman of the century.

A survey of editors in state-run television, radio, newspapers and magazines gave Aouita 284 points to put him top ahead of his middle-distance successor, Hicham El Guerrouj, who came second with 188.

"Aouita fully deserves this title. Let's hope that I will be able to win a similar title but for the whole of the third millennium," El Guerrouj said in a sports television programme in which the result was announced on Sunday night.

Aouita, now 40 and a private businessman, won the 5,000 metres gold medal at the 1984 at Los Angeles Olympics and at the 1987 world championships in Rome.

He held sway over a broad range of distances, broke five outdoor world records -- 1,500, 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 metres and two miles -- and set an indoor world best in the 3,000 metres.

His grip was loosened at the start of 1990s with the arrival of Algeria's Noureddine Morceli.

El Guerrouj restored Moroccan pride by, in turn, breaking Morceli's world records. El Guerrouj has already been voted Morocco's best sportsman for 1999.