Nawal El Moutawakel (Arabic: نوال المتوكل) (born on April 15, 1962 in Casablanca) is a Moroccan hurdler, who won the inaugural women's 400 m hurdles event at the 1984 Summer Olympics, thereby becoming the first female Muslim born on the continent of Africa to become an Olympic champion. In 2007, El Moutawakel was named the Minister of Sports in the upcoming cabinet of Morocco.
Although she had been a quite accomplished runner, the victory of El Moutawakel, who studied at Iowa State University at the time, was a surprise. The King 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. 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.
In 1995, El Moutawakel became a council member of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), and in 1998 she became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
El Moutawakel is a member of the International Olympic Committee, and she was the president of evaluation commissions for the selection of the host city for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
In 2006, El Moutawakel was one of the eight bearers of the Olympic flag at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Turin, Italy.
1984: Nawal El Moutawakel (MAR) • 1988: Debbie Flintoff-King (AUS) • 1992: Sally Gunnell (GBR) • 1996: Deon Hemmings (JAM) • 2000: Irina Privalova (RUS) • 2004: Fani Halkia (GRE) • 2008: Melaine Walker (JAM)
1983: Nawal El Moutawakel (MAR) • 1987: Nawal El Moutawakel (MAR) • 1991: Nezha Bidouane (MAR) • 1993: Nezha Bidouane (MAR) • 1997: Nezha Bidouane (MAR) • 2001: Sylvanie Morandais (FRA) • 2005: Benedetta Ceccarelli (ITA) • 2009: Phara Anacharsis (FRA)
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