Leila Ben Youssef

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Leila Ben Youssef
Personal information
Full name Leila Maryam Ben Youssef
Nationality  Tunisia
Born (1981-11-13) 13 November 1981 (age 34)
Sidney, Montana, United States
Height 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)
Weight 55 kg (121 lb)
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Pole vault
Team Stanford Cardinal
Coached by Scott Slover[1]
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) Outdoor: 4.30 m (2008)
Indoor: 4.11 m (2008)

Leila Maryam Ben Youssef (Arabic: ليلى مريم بن يوسف‎; born November 13, 1981 in Sidney, Montana, United States) is an American-born Tunisian pole vaulter.[2] She is a multiple-time Tunisian record holder in the pole vault, and a gold medalist at the 2007 All-Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria. She also holds a dual citizenship, and chose to represent her father's birthplace Tunisia at numerous sporting events, including the Olympic games.

Athletic career[edit]

Born in Sidney, Montana to a Tunisian father and a French mother, Ben Youssef started out her athletic career in pole vault at the age of fourteen. She excelled at her sport and academics throughout her years at Sidney High School, where she became a three-time Class A state champion, and posted a personal record of 12 feet and 7.5 inches (3.84 metres). Coming out of high school in 2000, Ben Youssef attended Stanford University in Stanford, California on a full academic and sport scholarship. She majored in human biology, minored in archaeology, and competed for the University's track and field team as a member of Stanford Cardinal. After completing her undergraduate degree in 2004, Ben Youssef also earned a master's degree of medical anthropology from the University.[1]

Since graduating from Stanford University in 2005, Ben Youssef continued to compete for pole vault this time, as a member of the Tunisian national track and field team. In 2007, she reached her breakthrough season by winning gold medals at the Pan Arab Games in Cairo, Egypt, and at the All-Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria, with a height of 3.80 and 3.85 metres, respectively.[3][4] The following year, Ben Youssef improved her performance at the African Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when she cleared 4.00 metres to clinch another career gold medal. She also set a national record, and vaulted a personal best of 4.30 metres at an athletics meet in Los Gatos, California, earning her a spot on the Tunisian team for the Olympics.[5]

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Ben Youssef successfully cleared a height of 4.00 metres in the women's pole vault. Unfortunately, she fell short in her bid for the final, as she placed thirty-second overall in the qualifying rounds, tying her position with Finland's Vanessa Vandy.[6]

Shortly after the Olympics, Ben Youssef announced her retirement from pole vault to pursue her studies at the University of Washington School of Medicine at Montana State University in Bozeman.[7]

She is now a 2nd year resident @ the prestigious hospital of Oakland CA named Highland Hospital AKA gun n' knife club.


  1. ^ a b Pettinger, Anne (11 August 2008). "Montanan to compete in the Olympics as a pole vaulter for Tunisia". Montana State University. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Leila Ben Youssef". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Nigeria claim sprint double". Gulf Daily News. 21 July 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Tunisian takes easy win in women's pole vault at All Africa Games". Xinhua (People's Daily Online (China)). 21 July 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Ayodi, Ayumba (2 October 2011). "Leila brings help from above". The Daily Nation (Kenya). Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Women's Pole Vault Qualification". NBC Olympics. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Rule, Marsha (7 August 2008). "UW medical student vaults her way to the Olympics". University of Washington. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 

External links[edit]