2,000-Meter Mark for Morceli

PARIS -- Noureddine Morceli broke the world 2,000-meters record, adding to his claim to be considered the greatest middle-distance runner ever and knocking his great rival Said Aouita out of the record books.

Morceli, running the last two circuits of the five-lap race on his own Monday, clocked 4 minutes, 47.88 seconds to knock almost three seconds off Aouita's 1987 time of 4:50.81, also set in Paris.

It was Morceli's fourth world record, all set in consecutive years since he broke the 1,500-meters best in 1992.

He added the mile record in 1993 and the 3,000 meters last year. All his records still stand.

Ironically, Morceli's Paris run took away the last world record held by the great Moroccan runner Aouita, the man Morceli is most often compared with when the all-time greats of middle-distance running are debated.

But Morceli said he took no joy from the fact that it was Aouita's record he had broken.

"I respect him a lot" he said. "He did a lot for sport and set a great example for the youth of the world. But beating a record is something that happens in sport."

Morceli was paced through the first three laps with split times of 57.06 seconds after the first lap, 1:57.09 after 800 meters and 2:55.03 after the third.

He went through the bell at 3:52.82 and ran a final lap of 55.06 seconds to grab the record.

Morceli, who said he might consider doubling at 1,500 and 5,000 meters at next month's world championships in G?teborg, Sweden, produced the outstanding performance at a Paris Grand Prix which had a host of glittering stars in action.

The most impressive of the rest was American world-400-meters champion Michael Johnson, who put in a devastating turn of speed out of the bend in the men's 200 meters to leave the field trailing in his wake as he took victory in 19.92 seconds.

Only an over-strong tailwind prevented the time going down as a world best for the year.

Two veteran sprinters, Linford Christie and Merlene Ottey, both 35, also had excellent victories in the 100-meter sprints.

British world and Olympic champion Christie came through powerfully in the last few meters to snatch victory in 10.06 seconds from Nigerian Davidson Ezinwa, with a hapless Carl Lewis back in fifth place after an appalling start.

Jamaican Ottey won the women's race in 11 seconds dead, equalling her own world-best time for the season and staying on course for a first world title at 100 meters.

Ethiopian world-10,000-meters-champion Haile Gebreselasie failed in an attempt to recapture the world-5,000-meters record he lost to Moses Kiptanui last month, finishing 12 seconds off record pace in 13 minutes, 7.81 seconds.