Hassiba Boulmerka, proud stride, head held high

Hassiba Boulmerka proud stride head held high

On August 8, 1992 in Barcelona, ​​Hassiba Boulmerka gave Algeria the first gold medal in history over 1,500 meters. At the time, his country was facing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

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With her green tank top and shorts, the color of hope, Hassiba Boulmerka won the Olympic title after winning his first world title in Japan the previous year. 1992 will remain in the Algerian collective memory as the year of possibilities, while the country was marked by an episode of violence which would last ten years and cause between 150,000 and 200,000 victims.

A breath of fresh air for the Algerian population

This “black decade” led to the athlete being singled out by the Islamists of the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) who accused her of not having worn a veil during her race. Hassiba Boulmerka, who was a breath of fresh air for the Algerian population during the Games, is forced into exile, her family is threatened. Upon her return to Algeria, she will be placed under police protection until 2007.

Before the Olympic Games of Rio in 2016, Hassiba Boulmerka admitted to having in mind “ every centimeter of his stroke “. For her, as a woman, bringing Algeria’s first medal to an Arab-Muslim society had meaning. However, Hassiba Boulmerka has never been involved in politics. “ I’m too honest to make a good politician. In politics, you have to accept changes. »

In Barcelona, ​​Hassiba Boulmerka became the fourth fastest woman in the history of the 1,500 meters. In 1995 in Gothenburg, she won a second world title, as if to make an impression. Despite the threats, she remains the best and does not give in. The messages of support received after his Olympic title gave him the strength to continue his career.

A hijab for running or a burkini for swimming, it’s not logical »

You cannot enter a mosque with shorts just like you cannot enter an athletics track with a hijab. A hijab for running or a burkini for swimming is not logical. When we play sports, we wear sports clothes », Said Hassiba Boulmerka who, although believing and practicing, never wanted to mix sport and religion.

At 55, Hassiba Boulmerka, who has become a symbol, is still in the sports world and continues to promote women’s access to sports in Algeria and around the world. In addition to being vice-president of the Algerian Olympic Committee (COA), she is also a member of the “gender equality” commission at the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

I arrived at a time when my country was going through a difficult period of violence, terrorism, fanaticism… And I arrived as a woman who gives hope, who gives courage “, she recently declared in front of an audience of young Parisians. The one who had received death threats before the Barcelona Olympics never wanted to give in to the blackmail of obscurantism. Bare legs, hair blowing in the wind, she ran for freedom.