MOROCCO/ Mariem Alaoui Selsouli: A great redemption?
At the Areva meeting last Friday, the Moroccan lady Mariem Alaoui Selsouli almost stole the show from 800m world record man David Rudisha. By recording the world’s best performance in the 1500m (3’56”54), she has set the bar very high in view of the Olympics. She was just short of 85 tiers to beat the record set by Algeria’s Hassiba Boulmerka since 1992. 2012 could be Selsouli’s and at the same time a rebirth of Morocco’s short distance. It has however started well for the Marrakech native. Already, last March, she reaped the fruits of her intense winter training by silver in the 1500m at the World indoor championships in Istanbul. However, before her stunning performance is Paris, the Moroccan had given more attention to the long distances by winning the 5000m, at the Rabat meeting in 14’36”52, later registering the best performance of the year in the 3000m at Eugène in 8’34”47. With the stunning time recorded in the 1500m last weekend in Paris, Mariam has proven that she has a mastery of the races she can compete in. Until now, in the 1500m, her compatriots, Btissam Lakhouyad andSiham Hilali were slightly ahead of her. To put aside the anonymity in which these races have been plunged into for the past two or three years, Morocco could even chose Mariam as their flag bearer in this discipline that has been brought to higher heights for the past ten years by fellow compatriots like Said Aouita, Hicham El Guerroudjiand Nezha Bidouane. With three weeks to go before the kick off of the Olympics in London, the Moroccan has sent a strong warning signal to her main rivals. There are a few of them who are at the same level. The most threatening are Ethiopia’s Abeba Arigawe (3’56”54) and Genzebe Dibaba (3’57”77), Turkey’s Asli Çakir Alptekin (3’56”62), whom she beat in Paris, Kenya’s Viola Jelagat Kibiwot (3’59”25) and Hellen Osando Obiri (3’59”68), not forgetting Russian trio Svetlana Podosenova (3’59”61),Ekaterina Gorbunova(3’59”89) and Elena Soboleva (4’00”53). At 28, the hero at the Paris meeting knows fully well that the London Olympics could be her last chance to win an Olympic medal. Gold will be the perfect prize but she won’t under look silver or bronze. This is because up till date she has not got one in her medal cabinet. Her silver medal at the world indoor championships will not be a sufficient backing when analyzing her over ten year career. Mariem Alaoui Selsouli has never been African champion, nor has she ever won a regional competition like the Mediterranean games and the All African games. However, a place on the Olympic podium will be a reward for her redemption after her two year suspension for doping by the International Athletics Federation, IAAF, between August 23, 2009 and August 23, 2011. Profile Mariem Alaoui Selsouli Born on the 8 July 1984 atMarrakech, Morocco Specialty: short distances: 1500, 3000 m, 5000 m. Moroccan Records :1500 m : 3’56”15. 3000 m: 8’29 52”. 5000 m : 14’36”52 Honours: Vice junior world champion in 2002 (3000 m), Vice indoor world champion 2012 (1500 m).