Hassiba Boulmerka

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Hassiba Boulmerka
Medal record
Women's Athletics
Competitor for  Algeria
Olympic Games
Gold 1992 Barcelona 1500 m
World Championships
Gold 1991 Tokyo 1500 m
Gold 1995 Gothenburg 1500 m
Bronze 1993 Stuttgart 1500 m
Mediterranean Games
Gold 1991 Athens 800 m
Gold 1991 Athens 1500 m
Gold 1993 Narbonne 800 m
Silver 1993 Narbonne 1500 m

Hassiba Boulmerka (Arabic: حسيبة بولمرقة‎) (born July 10, 1968 in Constantine in the north east of Algeria) is a former Algerian middle distance athlete. In 1992, she became the first Algerian to win an Olympic title.

Career[edit]

Born in Constantine, Boulmerka started running seriously at the age of ten,[1] specializing in the 800 and 1500 metres. She was successful in national and regional races, although there wasn't much competition. Her first major international tournament was the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where she was eliminated in the preliminary heat of both the 800 and 1500 m.

Boulmerka's performances slowly became better, and her big breakthrough came in 1991. The first major race she won was the 800 m. at the Golden Gala race in Rome, Italy. A month later, she competed at the World Championships. On the last straight of the 1500 m final, she sprinted to victory, becoming the first African woman to win an athletics world title.

Her remarkable performance did not only give her positive attention. She was frequently bothered by Muslim groups in Algeria who thought she showed too much of her body when racing. Boulmerka received death threats[1] and was forced to move to Europe to train. In spite of this, she was one of the favorites for the 1500 m gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In the final, she fought off Lyudmila Rogachova and current world record holder Qu Yunxia for the gold medal. It was Algeria's first gold medal at the Olympic Games.

Boulmerka's next two seasons were not as successful, although she won a bronze medal at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart. In 1995, she hadn't won a single race going into the World Championships in Gothenburg, but this did not prevent her from winning her second world title. It was her only victory of that season, and her last major victory. She competed at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta, but sprained her ankle in the semi-finals. After the 1997 season, in which she did not defend her world title, she retired from sports.

Boulmerka was later elected to the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee.[2]

She holds the 1500 metres African record of 3:55.30 that was set on August 8, 1992 in Barcelona. She also held the one mile African record of 4:20.79, set in 1991 in Oslo, for 17 years until it was beaten by Gelete Burika of Ethiopia, who timed 4:18.23 in 2008.[3]

Post-athletics career[edit]

Boulmerka has returned to Algeria and is now a businesswoman.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hassiba Boulmerka: Defying death threats to win gold, BBC, 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  2. ^ "Hassiba Boulmerka: Algerian Role Model". Archived from the original on 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  3. ^ IAAF, September 7, 2008: Powell cruises to 9.77 and 9.82 in Rieti – IAAF World Athletics Tour

External links[edit]