Hassiba Boulmerka

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Hassiba Boulmerka
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Algeria
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 1500 m
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1991 Tokyo 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1995 Gothenburg 1500 m
Bronze medal – third place 1993 Stuttgart 1500 m
Mediterranean Games
Gold medal – first place 1991 Athens 800 m
Gold medal – first place 1991 Athens 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1993 Narbonne 800 m
Silver medal – second place 1993 Narbonne 1500 m

Hassiba Boulmerka (Arabic: حسيبة بولمرقة‎, born 10 July 1968) is a former Algerian middle distance athlete.


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 criticized 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 Qu Yunxia (world record holder until 2015) 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 formerly held the 1500 metres African record with her time of 3:55.30 run on 8 August 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]

  • best Algerian athletes of the last 50 years 2013


  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]