The 23-year year old Spaniard Fermín Cacho Ruiz stood on the start line for the Olympic 1500m final in Barcelona with nothing to lose. Back in 1992 he was not the World or Olympic Champion and he had not even clocked the fastest time in the world that year. His personal best for the distance was a steady 3.32.03. In fact, Fermín, from the town of Ágreda in the Province of Soria in Northern Spain, was not remotely favoured to claim the Olympic title. Cacho's best result prior to Barcelona had been as runner-up in the Indoor Championships in Seville a year before. This time, however, Fermín would be running in front of his home crowd, not to mention his King, Juan Carlos.
The hard yards
Cacho won his heat and second place in his semi-final earned him a spot in the final. Starting on the inside lane, Cacho broke to the front of the pack in the first few metres. Boxed in, although at the front of the pack, Fermin maintained a steady pace and managed to avoid tripping in the confined space he found.
The final lap
It had been a slow race and that suited Fermin, who seized his moment with just 300m remaining. A space opened up in front of him and he nipped into it, taking the lead as the race entered the final 200m. Once out in front, no one would catch him. The sound of the crowd and thoughts of Olympic glory in his mind, Cacho even pulled away from the rest of the field despite expecting at any moment to see another runner appearing over his shoulder.
Arms raised high above his head, Fermin Cacho Ruiz crossed the finish line to claim the Olympic gold medal. The time on the clock was a pedestrian 3:40.12, more than over ten seconds off World Record pace, and the slowest Olympic 1500m final for 36 years. Few, though, had their eyes on the clock, least of all Fermin, the new Olympic Champion. Spain’s first ever at that distance.
Cacho’s leap to Atlanta Silver
Four years after winning his Olympic title, Fermin Cacho was back in the Olympic 1500m final in Atlanta to defend his title. It was not to be. Morocco’s Hicham El Guerroui fell in front of him, forcing Cacho to leap to avoid crashing out of the race altogether. The 1992 Olympic Champion finished in silver-medal position behind Noureddine Morceli of Algeria.