Former track & field world record holder and Olympic champion in the 5000m, Saïd Aouita is celebrated as one of the first globally recognized Arab sports icon.
Born on November 2, 1959 in the Moroccan coastal city of Kenitra, Saïd moved to Fez with his family nine years later, due to the nature of his father’s job. An enthusiastic sportsman from an early age, he was a football playing child like many young African children and had his sights set on being a great footballer. But fate had mapped a different path to glory for the young Moroccan. Persuaded by his coaches who saw his athletics potential, he abandoned the soccer pitch for the running tracks.
At the 1981 Summer Universiade (World University Games) in Bucharest, Romania, Saïd won the gold medal in the 1500m, clocking a time of 3:38:43 to set a new games record, and announcing himself to the world as one for the future. Three years later at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, he won the gold medal in the 5000m, setting a new Olympic record of 13:05:59 in the process.
For about a decade, Saïd went on to dominate the middle and long distant races, winning medals in the 800m, 1500m, 2000m, 3000m, 5000m, 10000m and the 2-Mile races. He ran a total of 119 races between September 1983 and September 1990 and lost only four times, winning the rest while setting six world records in the process.
Saïd Aouita had to call time on his athletics career after unsuccessful attempts to stage a comeback to the top of athletics, following a leg surgery. Doctors had advised him to call it quits and hang his running shoes after the surgery.
With his athletics career over, he took up consultancy roles for various sports institutions and presently works as Senior Analyst for Al-Jazeera Sports.
Saïd holds a Master’s in Business Administration and a doctorate in Sports Management and Leadership. He nurtures a desire to impact the sports business while coaching and developing young athletes to become world and Olympic champions.
Married to his biggest supporter, Khadija Skhir since 1983, the couple are blessed with three girls and a son.
The two eldest daughters, Soukaina and Sarah who are both in the medical field were both named by King Hassan II of Morocco.
Did You Know?
- Saïd was born in Kenitra on November 2, 1959 but moved to Fez nine years after.
- He held 6 world records in 5 different track events: 1500m, 2000m, 3000m, 5000m and the 2-Mile.
- His wife Khadija is also into sports and has a black belt in taekwondo.
- In 1985, Saïd ran 13:00:40 in the 5000m to set his first world record in July at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway.
- As a child Said spent most of his time playing football and wanted to grow up to be a great footballer. However, his outstanding running skills made his coaches foresee a different great future for him.
Afro Tourism salutes this former world record holder, Olympic champion and great African athlete, Saïd Aouita!
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