Ismail Ahmed ISMAIL

Athlete Profile

    Sudan Sudan
    10 SEP 1984
Ismail Ahmed Ismail wins the men's 800m in 1:45.85 (Getty Images)


Discipline Performance Wind Venue Date Records Results Score
400 Metres 47.00 Göteborg (SWE) 24 JUN 2008 1045
800 Metres 1:43.82 Olympic Stadium, Athina (GRE) 13 JUL 2009 1210
1000 Metres 2:18.15 Rabat (MAR) 05 JUN 2011 1114
1500 Metres 3:41.97 Palo Alto, CA (USA) 01 MAY 2005 1080
4x400 Metres Relay 3:04.00 Addis Abeba (ETH) 04 MAY 2008 NR 1130


* Not legal.


Discipline Performance Wind Venue Date Records Results Score
600 Metres 1:16.12 Moskva (RUS) 07 FEB 2010 1174
800 Metres 1:44.75 Praha (CZE) 26 FEB 2009 NR 1239
1500 Metres 4:02.79 Atlantic Pavillion, Lisboa (POR) 09 MAR 2001 861


* Not legal.

Latest Active Season: 2016


Discipline Performance Wind Place Date Records Results Score
800 Metres 1:51.96 Djibouti (DJI) 31 MAR 2016 971


400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2008 47.00 Göteborg (SWE) 24 JUN 2008
2003 47.69 Santry (IRL) 15 AUG 2003


800 Metres

Performance Place Date
2016 1:51.96 Djibouti (DJI) 31 MAR 2016
2015 1:48.65 Manama (BRN) 27 APR 2015
2013 1:47.16 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 10 MAY 2013
2012 1:48.14 Montreuil-sous-Bois (FRA) 05 JUN 2012
2011 1:45.14 Belém (BRA) 15 MAY 2011
2010 1:50.24 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 14 MAY 2010
2009 1:43.82 Olympic Stadium, Athina (GRE) 13 JUL 2009
2008 1:44.34 Stade Louis II, Monaco (MON) 29 JUL 2008
2007 1:47.29 Bamako (MLI) 20 APR 2007
2006 1:44.70 Lignano (ITA) 16 JUL 2006
2005 1:45.32 Madrid (ESP) 16 JUL 2005
2004 1:45.17 Olympic Stadium, Athina (GRE) 25 AUG 2004
2003 1:46.15 Budapest (HUN) 08 AUG 2003
2002 1:46.36 National Stadium, Kingston (JAM) 17 JUL 2002
2001 1:52.42 Réduit (MRI) 19 AUG 2001
2000 1:53.14 E.Nacional, Santiago de Chile (CHI) 17 OCT 2000


1000 Metres

Performance Place Date
2011 2:18.15 Rabat (MAR) 05 JUN 2011


1500 Metres

Performance Place Date
2006 3:48.94 Zürich (SUI) 18 AUG 2006
2005 3:41.97 Palo Alto, CA (USA) 01 MAY 2005
2001 3:53.15 Damascus (SYR) 05 OCT 2001


4x400 Metres Relay

Performance Place Date
2011 3:07.47 Doha (QAT) 20 DEC 2011
2008 3:04.00 Addis Abeba (ETH) 04 MAY 2008


600 Metres

Performance Place Date
2010/11 1:16.16 Moskva (RUS) 06 FEB 2011
2009/10 1:16.12 Moskva (RUS) 07 FEB 2010
2007/08 1:21.30 Stockholm (SWE) 21 FEB 2008


800 Metres

Performance Place Date
2013/14 2:00.63 Praha (CZE) 25 FEB 2014
2011/12 1:47.23 Düsseldorf (GER) 10 FEB 2012
2010/11 1:48.19 Liévin (FRA) 08 FEB 2011
2009/10 1:45.99 Düsseldorf (GER) 03 FEB 2010
2008/09 1:44.75 Praha (CZE) 26 FEB 2009
2007/08 1:49.63 Stockholm (SWE) 21 FEB 2008
2003/04 1:48.69 Belfast (GBR) 15 FEB 2004


1500 Metres

Performance Place Date
2000/01 4:02.79 Atlantic Pavillion, Lisboa (POR) 09 MAR 2001

Honours - Olympic Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
2. 800 Metres 1:44.70 National Stadium, Beijing (CHN) 23 AUG 2008
8. 800 Metres 1:52.49 Olympic Stadium, Athina (GRE) 28 AUG 2004

Honours - World Indoor Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
4. 800 Metres 1:46.90 Aspire Dome, Doha (QAT) 14 MAR 2010

Honours - World U20 Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
5. 800 Metres 1:47.20 National Stadium, Kingston (JAM) 19 JUL 2002

Honours - African Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
2. 800 Metres 1:46.65 Bambous (MRI) 11 AUG 2006
2. 4x400 Metres Relay 3:04.00 Addis Abeba (ETH) 04 MAY 2008
2. 800 Metres 1:45.41 Addis Abeba (ETH) 02 MAY 2008
3. 800 Metres 1:45.87 Brazzaville (CGO) 17 JUL 2004

Honours - All-African Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
5. 800 Metres 1:47.29 Abuja (NGR) 13 OCT 2003

Honours - Golden League

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 800 Metres 1:45.85 Paris-St-Denis (FRA) 17 JUL 2009

Honours - National Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 800 Metres 1:46.9h Khartoum (SUD) 09 OCT 2004
Results in:

800 Metres

Date Competition Cnt. Cat Race Pl. Result
31 MAR 2016 Djibouti Meeting Internationale, Djibouti DJIDJI E F1 7. 1:51.96

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Updated 9 August 2008

Ismail Ahmed ISMAIL, Sudan (800m)

Born: 1 November 1984, Halfa
Lives: Khartoum
1.93m / 70kg
Coach/manager: Jama Aden
Second born of six siblings (1 sister, 4 brothers)

Ismail Ahmed Ismail made a strange start to his life as an athlete for two reasons. First, instead of gradually moving up in distance, he moved down, beginning as a 3000m runner, turning to 1500m and, finally, to 800m. Second, although he was a middle distance competitor, he kept getting disqualified. A man with an infectious sense of humour, he laughs at those days now.

Having been introduced to athletics at school, Ismail’s talent soon surfaced and he won the National Schools 3000m. But why the 3000m? “My teacher was pushing me in the 3000m because I was tall,” Ismail recalled. “He didn’t really know athletics, so maybe he was thinking: ‘The short guys are sprinters, so the tall one can go for 3000!”

Fortunately for the athlete who would become an Olympic 800m finalist by the age of 19, the experienced eye of Omer Khalifa knew something was wrong. Khalifa, the Sudanese 1500m record holder (3:33.28, 1986) and fifth-placer at the 1987 World Championships, in Rome, recognised that Ismail was running too long a distance.

“The national coach (Khalifa) saw me in the 3000m and told me I had to come down to 800,” Ismail explained. “So I tried 800m and I finished first in the National Junior Championships.  After that, they took me to the East African Junior Championships in Addis and I ran 1:55 - I was 6th. It was the year of the World Junior Championships in Santiago and I went to Santiago and ran 1:53 (1:53.14).”

And that was when the trouble started. There was no disgrace in the novice international finishing seventh in his heat but it was in his second event of the World Junior Championships, the 1500m, that he drew attention to himself. He was disqualified for leaving the track and rejoining the race.

However, Ismail’s silver medal over 1500m at the Arab Championships that year - “my first medal” – maintained his enthusiasm and, in 2001, he was sent to the World Indoor Championships, in Lisbon, to gain experience in the senior ranks. He was out of his depth, finishing last in his 1500m heat six seconds adrift of the field (4:02.79)

Dropping back down two age groups, Ismail went to the 2001 World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, and lined up for the  800m. But he was disqualified there, too, this time for breaking lanes too early. “I didn’t know how to break lanes,” he said. “I didn’t know the rules. It made me feel bad.”

However, in 2002, Ismail began to be noticed for the right reasons. He was fifth in the World Junior Championships in Kingston (1:47.20) in a race won by Kenya’s Alex Kipchirchir (1:46.59). In 2003, by now an 800 specialist, he ran a time almost identical to the one he had in Kingston (1:47.21) but it was not enough to get him past the heats of the World Championships, in Paris. At the 2004 World Indoor Championships, in Budapest, seven months later, he failed to finish in his heat.

In the circumstances, it was understandable that Ismail was not especially optimistic for his prospects at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Did he think he had a chance of reaching the final? “No,” he said candidly. “I just wanted to do my best.” Which is exactly what he did, setting personal best times in his heat and Semi-Final.  “So, in the Final, I was tired,” Ismail said, laughing, and trying to justify his last place, seven seconds adrift at the back of the field.

Running 1:45.32 in the build-up to the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Ismail was optimistic of reaching another global Final. But he suffered an injury training in Helsinki four days before the competition and had to withdraw. Clocking a personal best 1:44.70 in Lignano, in July, it looked as though 2006 was shaping up nicely for Ismail but a thigh injury effectively cost him the rest of the season.

Into 2007, by now, the injury theme had become seemingly never-ending and, hardly competing at all that season, he made no impression. Thankfully for Ismail, 2008 has been a different story. He has run several races, including a 2nd place in the African Championships, 3rd in Doha, and wins in Malmö and Rabat.

Then, with the Olympic Games in Beijing less than three weeks away, Ismail clocked a personal best 1:44.34 for fifth place in an IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting, in Monaco, on 29 July, a race won by Russia’s defending Olympic champion, Yuriy Borzakowskiy in 1:42.79.

Asked how difficult it had been for him to cope during three successive years of injury blows, Ismail said:  “I was listening to people talking. They were saying: ‘Ismail is finished’. But I believed in myself. The people in Sudan do not understand athletics and they were saying: ‘This guy will not run again. He stopped three years, that’s too much’.

“Me? I knew I was going to come back. My coach (Jama Aden) was the one talking to me. I ran in the African Championships (2008, in Addis) and I was 2nd. I know I can do it again.”

While Ismail was sidelined, one of the hottest properties in world athletics was emerging – from Ismail’s own country and in his own event. Abubaker Kaki won the 800m at the All Africa Games, in Algiers, and at the Pan Arab Games, in Cairo, in 2007 and began 2008 with a World junior indoor record for 1000m and by taking the World Indoor title over 800m in Valencia.

Was it hard for Ismail seeing this new rising star while he was stagnating? “No,” he said. “I feel good because before I didn’t have someone to push me but Kaki has come and pushed me. We train together. I am training with Kaki and everything is going up. Before Kaki I was training alone. I feel very happy because we are two guys. We train in a bigger group.”

Personal Bests

800m: 1:44.34 (2008)
1500m: 3:41.97 (2005)

Yearly Progression

800/1500m: 2000: 1:53.12/3:48.70; 2001: 1:48.2/ -; 2002: 1:46.36/ -; 2003: 1:46.15/ -; 2004: 1:45.17/ -; 2005: 1:45.32/3:41.97; 2006: 1:44.70/ -; 2007: 1:47.29/ -; 2008: 1:44.34/-

Career Highlights

2000 heats World Junior Championships (800m)
2001 heats World Indoor Championships (1500m)
2001 6th African Junior Championships (800m)
2002 5th World Junior Championships (800m)
2003 heats World Championships (800m)
2003 1st Arab Championships (800m)
2003 5th All Africa Games (800m)
2004 3rd African Championships (800m)
2004 8th Olympic Games (800m)
2004 2nd Pan Arab Games (800m)
2006 2nd African Championships (800m)
2008 2nd  African Championships

Prepared by David Powell for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.

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