Although she had been a quite accomplished runner, the victory of El
Moutawakel, who studied at Iowa State University at the time, was a
surprise. King Hassan II of Morocco telephoned El Moutawakel to give his
congratulations, and he declared that all girls born the day of her
victory were to be named in her honor.Her medal also meant the
breakthrough for sporting women in Morocco and other mostly Muslim
She was a pioneer for Muslim and Arabic athletes in that she confounded
long-held beliefs that women of such backgrounds could not succeed in
In 1993 she started Courir pour le plaisir, a 5km run for women in
Casablanca that has since become the biggest women’s race held in a
Muslim country, with up to 30,000 entrants.
In 1995, El Moutawakel became a council member of the International
Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and in 1998 she became a
member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
El Moutawakel is a member of the International Olympic Committee, and
she was the president of evaluation commissions for the selection of
the host city for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
In 2006, El Moutawakel was one of the eight bearers of the Olympic flag
at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Turin, Italy. On the
26th July, 2012, she carried the Olympic torch through Westminster,
London, for the London Olympics.