Khalid Skah

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Khalid Skah
Skah in London in 2012
Medal record
Men’s Athletics
Representing  Morocco
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 10,000 m
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 1995 Gothenburg 10,000 m
Bronze medal – third place 1991 Tokyo 10,000 m
Mediterranean Games
Gold medal – first place 1993 Narbonne 10,000 m

Khalid Skah (Arabic: خالد سكاح‎‎) (born January 29, 1967) is a Moroccan track and field athlete, winner of 10,000 metres at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Born in Midelt, Morocco, Khalid Skah established himself first as a good cross country runner by winning the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 1990 and 1991.

Racing career[edit]

World Championships[edit]

His first major tournament on track was 1991 World Championships where he at first won a bronze in 10,000 m and then finished sixth at the 5000 m run. This was a disappointing outcome for Skah as, earlier in the season, he had won the 10000 m race in Oslo against a very strong field and had emerged as one of the favourites for the finals in Tokyo. However, for the 10 000 m final Richard Chelimo and the eventual world champion, Moses Tanui (both of Kenya) employed some very elaborate tactics and worked as a team. By the time of the 5000 m final Skah was probably tired. Yobes Ondieki (Kenya) who won the gold medal over 5000 m had expected Skah to be his major rival.[1]

1992 Olympics[edit]

The following year, at the Barcelona [[Olympics, Chelimo met Skah again. With three laps remaining in the 10,000 m final the two athletes were clear and battling for the gold medal. At this point the pair came to lap another Moroccan athlete, Hammou Boutayeb, who stayed with the leaders even after being lapped. This act was contrary to the spirit of the competition and the crowd booed their disapproval. The rules state that a lapped runner cannot "assist" another runner but, although Boutayeb's actions were unsportsmanlike, it is not certain that there was any collusion, that Skah gained any advantage or that Chelimo was disadvantaged. These events incensed the Spanish crowd, and the Swedish track judge Carl-Gustav Tollemar attempted to stop Boutayeb but, the latter being younger, fitter and moving at speed, he was unable to.[1][2]

During the final 150 m Skah sprinted away from Chelimo to win the race, and was disqualified, making Chelimo the Olympic champion. However, the Moroccans appealed against the disqualification and Skah was reinstated the next morning because the rule under which he was disqualified did not define a penalty. During the medal ceremony Skah was loudly booed by the crowd, whilst Chelimo received a standing ovation.[1][2]

Other races[edit]

In 1993 Skah won the 5000 m race at the prestigious meeting in Zurich. However, he finished fifth in 5000 m at the 1993 World Championships. He ran his only world record in 2 miles (8:12.17) on the same season. He won the 1994 World Semi-Marathon Championships and finished second in 10,000 m at the 1995 World Championships.

Skah's last major international tournament was 1996 Summer Olympics, where he finished seventh in 10 000 m. In 1995, Skah was given Norwegian citizenship, where he lived and trained with athletes club B.U.L. After that, the Moroccan Athletics Association banned him from international competitions. Skah was reinstated in 2001 after which he tried a come-back to re-establish himself as one of the world's best long distance runners, finishing tenth in the World Half Marathon Championships that year.

Personal life[edit]

Khalid Skah married Norwegian interior designer Anne Cecilie Hopstock after his Barcelona triumph, and they have two children. The marriage ended in divorce after the family relocated to Morocco in 2006.

Skah lost a custody battle with his former wife in Norwegian courts, two years later, yet failed to return the children. He was indicted on kidnapping, threats, and domestic disturbance charges in Norway.[3] By 2009, Norwegian authorities had not managed to serve Skah with the verdict. Under Norwegian law both parties must be served with the verdict, before it can be enforced, or appealed.[4]

The two children of Skah and Cecilie Hopstock fled Morocco in July 2009. The Norwegian embassy's alleged improper sheltering of the dual-citizenship children during their escape has led to a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.[5][6] Skah issued a reward and filed for custody in Morocco. The former track champion maintains his innocence, claims the children were abducted[7] and asserts that armed Norwegian commandos intruded into his home.[8] Hopstock later confirmed she had hired off-duty naval rangers to help her sail her children out of Moroccan waters.[9] In 2013 media said that "Bolle and one of the other men still were working in the Norwegian Armed Forces at the time [of the abduction], but no disciplinary action was leveled at them".[10]

On 19 June 2013, Skah was arrested at Orly airport in Paris [11] On 21 June 2013 he was released and ordered not to leave Paris until further notice. In April 2014 a French court refused a Norwegian extradition request on the grounds that the diplomatic dispute between Morocco and Norway would mean he would not get a fair trial there.[12]


Skah's sister is married to the Finnish runner Janne Holmén and lives in Uppsala, Sweden.


Khalid Skah profile at IAAF

  1. ^ a b c "Richard Chelimo:Athlete who narrowly missed out on Olympic gold, by Pete Nichols, Wednesday 29 August 2001
  2. ^ a b "OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Athletics: Kenyan outcry over Skah's reinstatement" Mike Rowbottom, The Independent August 5, 1992
  3. ^ [1] "Olympic champion Khalid Skah (42) indicted on kidnapping, violence and serious threats charges". Verdens Gang, newspaper article (Norwegian language)
  4. ^ [2] "Khalid Skah refuses to acknowledge Norwegian law". Dagbladet, newspaper article (Norwegian language)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2012-10-21.  "Oslo could neither be unaware of, nor downplay the nature of the breaches made by its diplomats", Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation press release (French language)
  6. ^ [3] "Child custody case in Morocco", Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release
  7. ^ [4] "Olympic hero Skah seeks fatwa to get his children back". AFP article
  8. ^ [5] "Moroccan athlete demands Norway return his children", Reuters interview
  9. ^ [6] "Morocco Olympic champion's children 'not abducted'", BBC News article
  10. ^ "Skah vil til Norge". Dagbladet. 2013-06-20. Bolle og en av de andre mennene tjenestegjorde fortsatt i Forsvaret på det tidspunktet, men det ble ikke iverksatt disiplinærsak mot dem. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ France vetoes athlete Khalid Shah's extradition to Norway . RFI English (2014-04-23). Retrieved on 2015-01-18.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Saïd Aouita
Men's 3,000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Dieter Baumann
Preceded by
Carl Thackery
Men's Zevenheuvelenloop Winner (15 km)
Succeeded by
Haile Gebrselassie