Nawal El Moutawakel

Nawal El Moutawakel (Amazigh: Nawal Lmutawakkil; Arabic: نوال المتوكل; born on April 15, 1962 in Casablanca) is a Moroccan former hurdler, who won the inaugural women's 400 metres hurdles event at the 1984 Summer Olympics, and was the inaugural female, Muslim, born in Africa, Moroccan to become an Olympic medalist (gold).[1] [2] In 2007, El Moutawakel was named the Minister of Sports in the upcoming cabinet of Morocco.

Nawal El Moutawakel

El Moutawakel in 2009
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Morocco
Olympic Games
1984 Los Angeles 400 m hurdles
Mediterranean Games
1983 Casablanca 400 m hurdles
1987 Latakia 400 m hurdles


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 the evaluation commissions for the selection of the host city for the Summer Olympics of 2012 and 2016.[6] Since 2012 she is a Vice-President of the IOC.[7]

In 2006, El Moutawakel was one of the eight honored to bear the Olympic flag at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Turin, Italy. On 26 July 2012, she carried the London Olympics torch through Westminster.[8]

El Moutawakel was one of the ambassadors of the Morocco bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Morocco
1979 Mediterranean Games Split, Yugoslavia 6th 100 m 12.13
5th 200 m 24.64
1981 Arab Championships Tunis, Tunisia 1st 100 m 11.86
1st 200 m 24.30
World Cup Rome, Italy 8th 100 m 11.921
7th 4x100 m relay 46.151
1982 African Championships Cairo, Egypt 2nd 100 m 11.7
1st 100 m hurdles 13.8
1st 400 m hurdles 58.42
1983 Maghreb Championships Casablanca, Morocco 1st 200 m 24.0
1st 100 m hurdles 13.4
1st 400 m hurdles 58.5
World Championships Helsinki, Finland 33rd (h) 100 m hurdles 14.85
12th (sf) 400 m hurdles 57.10
Mediterranean Games Casablanca, Morocco 1st 400 m hurdles 56.59
1984 African Championships Rabat, Morocco 1st 200 m 23.93
1st 400 m hurdles 56.01
Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 1st 400 m hurdles 54.61
1985 African Championships Cairo, Egypt 1st 400 m hurdles 56.00
Universiade Kobe, Japan 3rd 400 m hurdles 55.59
World Cup Canberra, Australia 4th 400 m hurdles 56.051
7th 4x400 m relay 3:36.861
1987 Universiade Zagreb, Yugoslavia 1st 400 m hurdles 55.21
Arab Championships Algiers, Algeria 1st 200 m 24.33
1st 400 m 54.28
1st 400 m hurdles 59.93
World Championships Rome, Italy 18th (h) 400 m hurdles 57.21
Mediterranean Games Latakia, Syria 1st 400 m hurdles 56.28

1Representing Africa

See also


  1. Billings, Andrew C. (2008). Olympic media. New York: Routledge. p. 3. ISBN 0-415-77250-8. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
  2. Nawal El Moutawakel Wise Muslim Women. Retrieved 9 April 2011
  3. Sarah Duguid (9 June 2012). "The Olympians: Nawal el-Moutawakel, Morocco". Financial TImes Magazine.
  4. Olympic report Archived 15 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Benchrif, Mohamed (1999-03-11). Nawal El Moutawakel - Pioneer and militant for Progress Archived 15 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  6. IOC Announces 2016 Summer Games Evaluation Commission Archived 26 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Ms Nawal EL MOUTAWAKEL, IOC site.
  8. "BBC - Olympic Torch Relay - Camden to Westminster". Retrieved 23 May 2018.
Preceded by
Dot Richardson
Flo Hyman Memorial Award
Succeeded by
Kristi Yamaguchi
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