Nawal El Moutawakel

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Nawal El Moutawakel
Nawal El Moutawakel (cropped).JPG
Nawal El-Mutawakel in 2009
Medal record
Women's Athletics
Competitor for  Morocco
Olympic Games
Gold 1984 Los Angeles 400m Hurdles
Mediterranean Games
Gold 1983 Casablanca 400m Hurdles
Gold 1987 Latakia 400m Hurdles

Nawal El Moutawakel (Arabic: نوال المتوكل‎) (born on April 15, 1962 in Casablanca) is a former Moroccan hurdler, who won the inaugural women's 400 m hurdles event at the 1984 Summer Olympics, thereby becoming the first female Muslim born on the continent of Africa to become an Olympic champion.[1] She was also the first Moroccan and the first woman from a Muslim majority country to win an Olympic gold medal.[2] In 2007, El Moutawakel was named the Minister of Sports in the upcoming cabinet of Morocco.


Although she had been a quite accomplished runner, the victory of El Moutawakel, who studied at Iowa State University[3] at the time, was a surprise. King Hassan II of Morocco telephoned El Moutawakel to give his congratulations, and he declared that all girls born the day of her victory were to be named in her honor.[4] Her medal also meant the breakthrough for sporting women in Morocco and other mostly Muslim countries.

She was a pioneer for Muslim and Arabic athletes in that she confounded long-held beliefs that women of such backgrounds could not succeed in athletics.[5]

In 1993 she started running for fun, a 5 km run for women in Casablanca that has since become the biggest women’s race held in a Muslim country, with up to 30,000 who came to run.[3]

In 1995, El Moutawakel became a council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and in 1998 she became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

El Moutawakel is a member[3] of the International Olympic Committee, and she was the president of evaluation commissions for the selection of the host city for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.[6]

In 2006, El Moutawakel was one of the eight bearers of the Olympic flag at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Turin, Italy. On 26 July 2012, she carried the Olympic torch through Westminster, London, for the London Olympics.[7]


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Morocco
1982 African Championships Cairo, Egypt 2nd 100 m 11.7 s
1st 100 m hurdles 13.8 s
1st 400 m hurdles 58.42 s


  1. ^ Billings, Andrew C. (2008). Olympic media. New York: Routledge. p. 3. ISBN 0-415-77250-8. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  2. ^ Nawal El Moutawakel Wise Muslim Women. Retrieved 9 April 2011
  3. ^ a b c Sarah Duguid (June 9, 2012). "The Olympians: Nawal el-Moutawakel, Morocco". Financial TImes Magazine. 
  4. ^ Olympic report
  5. ^ Benchrif, Mohamed (1999-03-11). Nawal El Moutawakel - Pioneer and militant for Progress. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  6. ^ IOC Announces 2016 Summer Games Evaluation Commission
  7. ^ BBC torch relay coverage

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Dot Richardson
Flo Hyman Memorial Award
Succeeded by
Kristi Yamaguchi