Nawal El Moutawakel Will Push Her Body To Its Limits To For Laureus Challenge 2022

“I know what it takes to overcome hurdles and to have challenges – I’m ready!”
Nawal El Moutawakel is talking both literally and figuratively about her participation in the Laureus Challenge 2022, presented by Sierra Space. In a little under two weeks, she will be one of five Laureus athletes leading a group of 100 fundraisers in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, walking across deserts, over mountains and through valleys in a 100km trek through UAE to raise funds for Laureus Sport for Good.
As she speaks about her hopes for the experience and its outcomes, she is about to leave her home for what has become a daily run on the sands of Casablanca, Morocco, at the peak of the early-afternoon sun.
It’s been a while since she has made these demands of the body that flew over the hurdles of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. One of the 1984 Olympics’ most enduring images was of 21-year-old Nawal El Moutawakel winning the first ever 400m final for women. In doing so, she made more history: her gold medal was the first for any Moroccan athlete and the first won by a Muslim woman.
Nawal retired from racing at 25 after knee and back injuries but continued to blaze a trail in sport. She was minister of sports in Morocco; a Vice President of the International Olympic Committee; a member of the World Athletics Council and a founding member of the Laureus Academy in 2000.
The injuries that ended her days as an elite competitor are not entirely in the past – but neither is the heart that drove her to a historic victory.
“I want to push my body to the limit and show that we can continue to do sport at any age. I discovered my body was still listening to me and carrying all the miles I have been doing each day. I think I can still keep up with the challenge and honour our dream to generate some money to help those in need.
“From the moment I learned I will take part in this beautiful experience at the age of 60 I’ve been so excited. I want to show that even at this age we are still capable of giving back to the sport, giving back to the communities and giving back to those who are in need – the children that are the soul and the heart of our movement.”

Nawal has been visiting Laureus Sport For Good projects since becoming part of the founding Laureus Academy in 2000. No matter what these four days will throw at her, she will be driven by thoughts of the programmes that will benefit from the funds raised by the Laureus Challenge. And she is looking forward to talking about them with the other fundraisers, including representatives of the sponsors of the Challenge, the leading commercial space company, Sierra Space.

“We’re supported this year by Sierra Space – people who are willing to give back to society through empowerment. This is what makes the Laureus Challenge unique – to see all of us from different environments, from different backgrounds but with the same goal: to push ourselves to our limit
“During our time together, I think our conversations will be around raising money for these kids, to help them fund their projects all over the world in 2023.
“I will think in particular about two projects I have visited – one is the Mathare project in Kenya, Nairobi. The other is the Magic Bus in India. I have seen how the leaders were fighting against all odds to eradicate poverty and misery and to empower the kids through sport and education, with respect for the environment and gender equity. I want to do this challenge so projects like that can benefit. These projects are led by heroes but they need our help.
“And I’m excited to be sharing this beautiful moment with my Laureus colleagues [Nawal will be joined by Steve Waugh, Chris Hoy, Bryan Habana and Annabelle Bond], all heroes of mine, all of them are very fit, but I’m telling them to bear with me if I’m lagging back – I’m not going to give up! I’ll stick with them and we’ll all finish at the same time.”

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