First Moroccan to win an Olympic Gold Medal
Hijri 1381–Present (AH); Common Era 1962–Present (CE)
Nawal El Moutawakel was the first woman from a Muslim-majority country to win an Olympic gold medal, the first Moroccan to win an Olympic gold medal, and the first African woman to win an Olympic medal. Nawal was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. Her talent brought her to the United States, specifically to the track team at Iowa State University. While a student, she was asked by the Moroccan track team to compete with them in the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She competed in the inaugural 400-meter hurdles event and placed first, beating her personal best by .76 seconds and winning the gold medal. The King of Morocco at the time, Hassan II, declared that every girl born on her victory day would be named Nawal in her honor. Since her historic win, Nawal has championed female athletes all over the world. She is a member of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), and she was selected to be a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1998. She was president of the selection committee for the 2012 summer games and is the first Muslim woman to be on the committee. Since 2007, she has been the Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports. She is also the president of Association Marocaine de Sports et Developpment (AMSD), as well as the vice-president of the Moroccan Royal Federation of Athletics.