First Algerian to Win an Olympic Medal
Hijri 1387–Present (AH); Common Era 1968–Present (CE)
Hassiba Boulmerka was the first woman from an Arab or African nation to win a world track championship, as well as the first Algerian to win an Olympic medal. Algeria’s best known female distance runner, Hassiba began running at a young age. Throughout the late 1980s she began making a name for herself on the international stage. It was during this time that conservative Islamic elements in Algeria condemned her and her role as a prominent female athlete. The continued harassment forced her to relocate her training to Europe. Despite this setback, she competed in the 1500 meter race in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She won the race, earning Algeria its first gold medal. She continued her professional running career, participating in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. However, she sprained her ankle in the semi-finals and then retired from professional sports in 1997. Since then, Hassiba has continued her work advocating on behalf of female athletes. She was elected a member of the Athletes’ Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and in 1999, she lobbied the group to put more pressure on governments that discriminate against female athletes.