The Untouchables

As the countdown to Athens begins, can these front-runners stay on track in Paris?

Updated: August 20, 2003, 1:44 PM ET
By By Dave Kuehls | ESPN The Magazine
Top-ranked ... undefeated ... defending champs: they're all lining up for the world track and field championships, Aug. 23-31. But with Eiffel Tower-size X's on their backs and rivals nipping at their heels, how many of them will leave with their reps intact?

MEN'S 1,500
HICHAM EL GUERROUJ, Morocco
The best middle-distance runner of all time. Period. He holds the world record (3:26:00) and has won 78 of his last 79 races (including the mile) dating back to 1997.
Who can beat him: Kenya's Bernard Lagat, second-fastest all-time at 1,500, has a blistering kick. And even the great El Guerrouj (who's also running the 5,000) has a ghost in his past: he was outkicked by Lagat's countryman, Noah Ngeny, for gold in Sydney.

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