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Morocco: Olympic Hopes

Global Voices OlympicsMorocco began competing in the Summer Olympic Games in 1960 and has competed in every Summer Games since (with the exception of the 1980 Games, which they boycotted along with the United States and its allies). Moroccan athletes have won a total of nineteen medals over the years, with Hicham el Guerrouj and Saïd Aouita both winning multiple medals in athletics.

Morocco sent 49 athletes to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, 11 of whom were women, to compete in seven events: athletics, judo, boxing, fencing, taekwondo, archery, and swimming. As of today, no medals have been won, but bloggers are nonetheless keeping close track of the Games. The View From Fez takes the lead in Olympic reporting, first sharing news of the appointment of Olympic gold medalist Nawal El Moutawakel (1984, 400 meter hurdles) to the IOC executive board.

Following the first few days of the Games, the blogger writes:

In the past Morocco has won 19 Olympic medals but only in two sports, with 16 medals from athletics and three medals from boxing. Morocco's first gold was won by Nawal El Moutawakel in the women's 400m hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Saïd Aouita, the overwhelming favourite for the 5000m in Los Angeles, won Morocco's second Olympic gold. He went undefeated over the distance for almost ten years but injury prevented him from defending his title in 1988, although he still managed to win a bronze medal.

Of Morocco's success (or lack thereof) thus far, the blogger adds:

In Beijing Morocco has not had a lot to smile about so far. In boxing (middleweight division) Kazakhstan's Bakhtiyar Artayev, who won gold in the welterweight division at Athens 2004 and bronze in the middleweight division at the 2007 World Championships, pocketed an 8-2 victory over Morocco's Said Rachidi.

In the next update from The View From Fez, there's a bit of good news:

At last Morocco has something to cheer about. Mohmammed Arjoui won a comprehensive victory (11/6) against Brad Pitt. Pitt quit his job as a painter in order to train for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but unfortunately he did not qualify for the games. After this blow he returned to work again as a painter only to quit again to focus his time on qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. For him Beijing lasted only a few minutes.


MidEast Youth
‘s Ray Hanania commented on the aspirations of Moroccan athletes:

The Arab Athlete to watch: Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco won the 1,500 metres and 5,000 metres at Athens 2004, becoming the first male athlete since Paavo Nurmi, 80 years earlier, to succeed in that double. Prior to Athens, El Guerrouj had won 84 of his 89 races at 1,500 metres or a mile since 1996, At Atlanta 1996, he tripped and fell in the final, finishing 12th. At Sydney 2000, he placed second to Kenya’s Noah Ngeny. The sports pros believe he has a shot at Gold and was named by Time Magazine as one of the top 50 athletes at the Beijing Olympics.

Moroccans, ever the good sports, are not only talking about their own athletes. Myrtus cheers Michael Phelps’ Olympic wins with the simple statement “You are GOLD!” which renders the following comment:

Congratulations Michael, un vrai sportif, à lui seul il a plus de medailles que tout les pays de maghreb arabes en JO …
Tbarkallah

Congratulations Michael, a true sportsman, he alone has more medals than any countries in the Arab Maghreb in the Olympic Games …
Tbarkallah

3 comments

  • I have just published a post on the same subject. Let us hope that the Arab gold medal drought ends with the Moroccan participation in 1,500 and 800 Women’s final.

  • m

    unambiguous message of peace, friendship and dialogue — the Olympic Handshake. The handshake began with the Dalai Lama, passing through the streets of London, now it’s gone online where all of us can join in — help the handshake travel toward Beijing, where our message will be delivered through a big Olympic media campaign before the closing ceremonies. Join the handshake, and see yourself and others as it goes around the globe!
    http://www.avaaz.org/en/handshake/

  • mmanjoura

    The days of Said Aouita and Hisham EL Guerrouj are long gone. These guys are self made international sport icons (Hero’s), they are exceptions. The reality is, it is not easy to produce a world class sports person, especially in sports like, rowing, cycling, short distance running (100m, 200m, 400m) …..; it requires education, dedication and resources from an early age, form both parents and government. The parents and the state have to be very committed; they need to be very knowledgeable and honest to them selves and to God. Producing an elite in any discipline, requires a continuous investment. But before we start a debate on how to produce a generation of sports people, we have to do the basics right first, and we have to be good at them. As I see it, being successful in an Olympic game is not the priority for Morocco at the moment, there is still a lot to be done?

    Being Moroccan I have quiet a good knowledge on how things woks over there. There is no transparency and sometimes no honesty either, this is sometime even among family members; there is plenty of bureaucracy and delusion. Government officials spend an enormous amount of time architecting how to convince the normal public that Morocco is simply amazing (One of the best countries in the world, as I have heard it from few innocents mouths), the reality is completely different unfortunately.

    Decision makers are still not too worries about corruption, luck of Justice and fairness within the ministry of interior and others. They are not too worried about the lack of hospitals the corruption of doctors. Now days you need to bribe a doctor or a nurse in state hospital if you want his/her attention or advice. Fascinating? Doctors are very educated and have sworn to be honest in their duties, why take a bribe? But again, the doctor wants a good car (Mercedes) and a good house (Villa) ASAP, this is the only way to do it, isn’t it, shame on them.

    Police are still taking bribe from innocent low paid motorist, you can negotiate the bribe with a judge before a court case, and you can bribe MPs.
    Most MPs became one, by bribing luring and miss promising the poor public. And I am not talking from the blue; I have seen this, with my own eyes. I have seen MPs bribing voters 100DH for a vote.

    I want Ministers, MPs, Doctors, Police, and Judges to lead us by example; failing to do so should be severely punished, named and shamed and made an example of.

    We have all the ingredients to make it fast pace into the development world and the equation is simple, stop corruption in all sectors among the big and small, anyone broke this should pay the price (Make corruption a taboo). Teach the new generation the values of Honesty, Transparency and Hard work, make these the 3 pillars of building a good, solid, respected society.
    Once we achieve this, the other piece of jigsaw (Good result at Olympics), will fall in its place naturally.

    MM

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