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 the 10,000 metres at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Born in Midelt, Morocco, 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]

1991 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.[1] By the time of the 5000 m final Skah was probably tired. Yobes Ondieki of Kenya, who won the gold medal in the 5000 m, had expected Skah to be his major rival.[citation needed]

1992 Olympics[edit]

The following year, at the Barcelona Olympics, Skah met Chelimo 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. The rules state that a lapped runner cannot "assist" another runner but, although Boutayeb's actions were interpreted as unsportsmanlike by the crowd, it was 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.[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 the disqualification and Skah was reinstated as Olympic champion the next morning, because the rule under which he was disqualified did not define a penalty.

Other races[edit]

In 1993 Skah won the 5000 m race at Weltklasse Zürich. However, he finished fifth in 5000 m at the 1993 World Championships. He ran his only world record in 2 miles (8:12.17) in 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 the 1996 Summer Olympics, where he finished seventh in the 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 comeback 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]

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 Hopstock fled Morocco in July 2009. The Norwegian embassy's alleged improper sheltering of the dual-citizenship children during their escape led to a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.[5][failed verification][6] Skah issued a reward and filed for custody in Morocco. The former track champion maintained his innocence, claiming the children were abducted[7] and 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 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 at World Athletics

  1. ^ a b Nichols, Pete (29 August 2001). "Richard Chelimo: Athlete who narrowly missed out on Olympic gold". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Rowbottom, Mike (5 August 1992). "Kenyan outcry over Skah's reinstatement". The Independent.
  3. ^ Hopperstad, Morten; Bongard, Therese (28 July 2009). "OL-mester Khalid Skah (42) tiltalt for kidnapping, vold og grove trusler" [Olympic champion Khalid Skah (42) indicted on kidnapping, violence and serious threats charges]. Verdens Gang (in Norwegian).
  4. ^ Herseth, Siril K. (29 July 2009). "Khalid Skah nekter å forholde seg til norsk rett" [Khalid Skah refuses to acknowledge Norwegian law]. Dagbladet (in Norwegian).
  5. ^ (Press release) (in French). Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation 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 Missing or empty |title= (help)[title missing][date missing]
  6. ^ "Child custody case in Morocco" (Press release). Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 28 July 2009.
  7. ^ "Olympic hero Skah seeks fatwa to get his children back". AFP.
  8. ^ "Moroccan athlete demands Norway return his children". Reuters.
  9. ^ "Morocco Olympic champion's children 'not abducted'". BBC News. 3 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Skah vil til Norge". Dagbladet. 20 June 2013. Bolle og en av de andre mennene tjenestegjorde fortsatt i Forsvaret på det tidspunktet, men det ble ikke iverksatt disiplinærsak mot dem.
  11. ^ "Khalid Skah pågrepet i Paris". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). 19 June 2013.
  12. ^ "France vetoes athlete Khalid Shah's extradition to Norway". RFI English. 23 April 2014.
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