Hassiba Boulmerka biography
Hassiba Boulmerka is a former Algerian middle distance athlete.
Hassiba Boulmerka Career
Hassiba Boulmerka was Born on born July 10, 1968 in Constantine, Boulmerka started running seriously at the age of ten, specializing in the 800 and 1500 metres. She was successful in national and regional races, although there wasn’t much competition. Her first major international tournament was the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where she was eliminated in the preliminary heat of both the 800 and 1500 m.
The fourth-born in a family of seven, she was born on 10 July 1968, and grew up in Constantine, Algeria. Her father was a truck driver and her mother a housewife. At school, Boulmerka displayed athletic talent and her supportive parents allowed her to participate in races. As the years passed, she evinced an exceptional athletic future. Endowed with speed and stamina, she pursued her dream to become an international track athlete. Nevertheless, even at this early stage in her career, she faced growing opposition from relatives and strangers. Her athleticism was not acceptable because she transgressed traditional gender borders by exposing her arms and legs while training. She was spat upon and pelted with stones. Despite risking personal injury, Boulmerka dauntlessly persevered. Indeed, Boulmerka’s story contains a subtext that involves the imagination of Algeria as a nation and, especially, the role of Islam and gender in Algerian society.
In 1988 Boulmerka began to achieve her athletic goals. At the African Games she won the 800-meter and 1,500-meter races. She failed, however, to qualify for the Olympic Games. Nonetheless, she learned what she had to do to compete at the highest levels. The greatest single sporting achievement in Algeria’s history occurred on 1 September 1991 at the Track and Field World Championship competition in Tokyo, Japan. On that day, Noureddine Morceli and Boulmerka both won gold medals in their respective 1,500-meter races. Whereas the renowned Morceli was expected to win, no one anticipated Boulmerka’s success. In the last turn of her race, she seized the lead and held off the formidable Tatyana Samolenko Dorovskikh of the USSR, the 3,000-meter champion. After Boulmerka crossed the finished line she recalled in Sports Illustrated : “I screamed for joy and of shock, and for much more. I was screaming for Algeria’s pride and Algeria’s history, and still more. I screamed finally for every Algerian woman, every Arabic woman” (Moore, 1992). This was the first time that a nation had both men’s and women’s world or Olympic 1,500-meter champions. Boulmerka was also the first African woman to earn an athletic world championship.
A throng welcomed the world champions at Algiers’s Houari Boumédienne Airport. A parade followed in the Algerian capital. President Chadli Benjedid awarded each champion the prestigious Medal of Merit. Politicians commended the athletes for improving the political climate in the country. One told Boulmerka that she helped unify Algeria. Sadly, the national celebration would be a short one, as Algeria was on the brink of its greatest crisis in its postcolonial history.
The rise of the Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut/FIS) signaled the sudden growth of Islamism as a political as well as social and cultural ideology. Electoral success in local elections in June 1990 was followed in the first round of parliamentary elections in December 1991. The prospect of a FIS-dominated government alarmed military and civilian elites, who overthrew Benjedid’s government in January 1992 before the second round of voting and canceled the elections. A provisional High Committee of State (Haut Comité d’Etat/HCE) took over under the leadership of Mohammed Boudiaf. This led to protests and soon violence among governmental and Islamist forces—a tragedy that cost over 150,000 Algerian lives. In June 1992, Boudiaf was assassinated.
Hassiba Boulmerka photo
Hassiba Boulmerka personal Chronorogy
1988: Wins 800-meter and 1,500-meter races in African Games
1991: Wins 1,500-meter at Track and Field World Championship in Tokyo, Japan
1992: First Arab woman (and African) to win gold medal in Olympic history in Barcelona, Spain
1993: Wins bronze medal at world championship in Stuttgart, Germany
1995: Earns another gold medal at Track and Field World Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden
1996: Sprains ankle in 1,500-meter semifinals at the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia
1999: Elected to the Athletes’ Commission of the IOC
Hassiba Boulmerka Records
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1991 Tokyo 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1995 Gothenburg 1500 m
Bronze medal – third place 1993 Stuttgart 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1991 Athens 800 m
Gold medal – first place 1991 Athens 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1993 Narbonne 800 m
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