Famous Catalans: Adel Mechaal

🕔 3 mins (total)
Multiple Spanish champion Adel Mechaal from Palamós. Photo: Instagram
Multiple Spanish champion Adel Mechaal from Palamós. Photo: Instagram

Adel Mechaal, from Palamós on La Costa Brava, is a professional athlete who has been representing Spain in middle- and long-distance running, including cross-country, since 2014. He is a multiple Spanish champion and current European indoor record-holder over 3000m.


Although Mechaal was born in 1990 in Puerto Capaz, El Jebha, a small town in northern Morocco, his family moved to Palamós when he was still at a very young age. He became a naturalized Spaniard in 2013 and started representing Spain internationally the very same year.

International career

In 2014 Mechaal represented Spain over 1500m in both the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, and the European Championships in Zürich, Switzerland. The following year he ran over the same distance at the World Championships in Beijing and in the 3000m at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.

Mechaal won his first international medal in the 5000m in the European Championships in Amsterdam in 2016, when he was pipped on the line by his compatriot, Ilias Fifa, for the gold medal, eventually taking home the silver in an incredible photo finish involving five athletes crossing the line together. All three runners who finished in the medal positions were given the exact same time, and the 4th-placed was only 0.01 of a second behind! You can the final lap of the race here.

Incidentally, the gold medal winner was another Moroccan-born naturalized Spaniard. Mechaal also ran the 1500m and 5000m events in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Olympics later the same year but didn’t make either final.

The following year, Mechaal won gold for Spain in the 3000m in the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, holding off Henrik Ingebrigtsen of Norway and Richard Ringer of Germany in the final – the same two men who finished just behind him in 3rd and 4th places respectively the year before in Amsterdam – but with no photo finish this time.

Mechaal missed out on medals in 2018 and 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic meant that nothing much happened in 2020. In the European Indoor Championships in Toruń, Poland, in 2021, he won bronze in the 3000m, while in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic games, which also took place in 2021, he ran a personal best time in the 1500m to finish in 5th place. The race was won in a new Olympic and European record by Jakob Ingebrigtsen, younger brother of Henrik, whom Mechaal had beaten previously in Amsterdam and Belgrade. In the 2023 European Championships, held in Istanbul, the Palamosino won the silver medal, again over the 3,000m, and again behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen

In February 2022 in New York he set a new European Indoor record for the 3000m, and in July 2023, Mechaal won the 1500m in the Spanish National Championships, and with a new championship record too! In February 2024, he won both the 1500m and 3000m events at the Spanish Indoor Athletics Championships in Ourense, Galicia.

Cross country

As well as his achievements in track running, Adel Mechaal won bronze in the European Cross Country Championships in Hyères, France, in 2015 and helped Spain win the team gold medal. He won silver in Šamorín, Slovakia in the same event in 2017. He is also the current Spanish cross country champion, winning the title over 10km at the Spanish Cross Country Championships in Jaen in 2022, and again in 2023 in the Biscayan town of Ortuella.

Some photos of Adel Mechaal from his Instagram account.
Some photos of Adel Mechaal from his Instagram account.


Adel is married to Emine Hatun Tuna Mechaal, who is also a professional track athlete, from Turkey, and for a time the couple lived in Istanbul. Now back living in his hometown of Palamós, here on the Costa Brava, Mechaal, along with his brother, Said, and sister, Chayma, established the Club d’Atletisme Mechaal Palamós in 2019, with the specific aim of attracting and encouraging young people from the municipality who do not play any sports. He still has close links to the l’Associació Atlètica Palamós, where he and his brothers trained and ran as youths.

The nearest athletics track to Palamós is in the municipality of Palafrugell, and although the distance between the two towns is short and runners based in the former sometimes use the facilities of the latter for training, practicalities mean that mostly they train by running on the roads and in the woods around Palamós. So keep an eye out, you might just see Adel Mechaal around the place!

Visca Palamós!

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