Nezha Bidouane - Morocco - 1997 & 2001 World 400m hurdles Champion

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 05 August 1997

Click on image to enlarge

      Thursday, 18 September 1969
      Rabat, Morocco.
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Nezha BIDOUANE - Morocco - 1997 & 2001 World 400m hurdles Champion

Nezha Bidouane had been virtually unknown before she was the surprise winner of the 400m hurdles at the 1997 World Championships in Athens. However, it may have been a surprise to many to learn that this was in fact her fourth World Championships appearance. Bidouane's three previous appearances had been relatively mediocre. She had finished last in her semi-final in 1991 at Tokyo, had failed to finish her heat at Stuttgart in 1993, and had been disqualified in her heat two years later in Gothenburg. Indeed, Bidouane's entire international championship record and performances prior to 1997 had given no hint of her breakthrough in that year. Nezha had been eliminated in the semi-finals of the 1992 Olympic Games, and had to miss the 1996 Olympic Games due to Achilles tendon surgery.


Nezha's best time prior to 1997 had been 55.08sec, but she slashed this time to 54.05sec at Rome on 5 June 1997, setting a new African record, and defeating Deon Hemmings (Jamaica) and Kim Batten (USA), who had respectively won the gold and silver medals at the previous year's Olympic Games. At the World Championships in Athens, Bidouane easily won her heat on 5 August (see photo above) in 55.53sec, and then, on the following day, further lowered her African record to 53.48sec when she won her semi-final. Despite this vast improvement by Bidouane, few considered the final to be anything more than a match race between Batten and Hemmings. The first half of the final seemed to follow this script, with Batten and Hemmings setting a very fast pace. Bidouane was a distant fourth entering the straight, but finishing like a rocket, passing Batten at the last hurdle, and catching a surprised Hemmings in the last few strides to win in yet another new African record of 52.97sec. (Ron Casey)


Photo G. Herringshaw.  25th August 1999. ©


                                         Silver medal at 1999 World Championships.


 Nezha Bidouane had made a spectacular breakthrough in the 400m hurdles during 1997, breaking the African record three times, and winning an exciting World Championships final at Athens from Deon Hemmings (Jamaica) and Kim Batten (USA). These three athletes were a class apart from the rest of the world in 1998, setting the twelve best times of the year between them, and trading wins and losses with each other during the European outdoor season. The biggest meet of the year was the World Cup in Johannesburg on 11 September, where Bidouane narrowly beat Hemmings, with Batten a close third, thus duplicating their finishing order at the previous year's World Championships. Nezha's time of 52.96 sec clipped 0.01sec off her previous personal best and African record.


During the early part of the 1999 season, Bidouane and Hemmings were again in a class by themselves, although a youngster from Cuba, Daimi Pernia, had been making impressive improvements in her times. In the final of the World Championships at Seville on 25 August, Hemmings appeared to be Bidouane's only serious threat in her bid to successfully defend her world title. However, it was Pernia who took the initiative, leading into the straight, and was still narrowly in the lead when she badly smashed into the last hurdle (see photo above in lane 5 © ). At that point Bidouane was just inside and behind Pernia in lane 4, and just shading Hemmings in lane 3 (see photo above). Miraculously, Pernia recovered, and went on to narrowly beat Bidouane in 52.89sec to Nezha's 52.90sec, which was another new personal best and African record. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Bidouane finally won an Olympic medal, finishing third to Russian Irina Privalova. (Ron Casey)




Nezha Bidouane is pictured during her heat of the women's 400m hurdles in Edmonton,

where she won the World Championship title for a second time.     Photo G Herringshaw. ©

Monday 6th. August 2001.


Women's 400m. Hurdles Final

World Athletics 2001 Championships

1. Nezha BIDOUANE   MOR   53.34
2. Yuliya NOSOVA   RUS   54.27
3. Daimi PERNIA   CUB   54.51
4. Tonya BUFORD-BAILEY   USA   54.55
5. Debbie-Ann PARRIS   JAM   54.68
6. Ionela TIRLEA   ROM   55.36
7. Deon HEMMINGS   JAM   55.83
8. Sandra GLOVER   USA   57.42



ANNUAL PROGRESS 400m hurdles.


2004 54.89 Heusden-Zolder 31

JUL 2001 53.34 Edmonton 08 AUG

2000 53.53 Roma 30 JUN

1999 52.90 Sevilla 25 AUG   (PB)

1998 52.96 Johannesburg 11 SEP

1997 52.97 Athína 08 AUG

1996 55.31 Saint-Denis 03 JUN

1995 55.85 Nice 12 JUL

1994 55.19 Bondoufle 12 JUL

1993 56.09 Narbonne 19 JUN

1992 55.08 Barcelona 03 AUG

1991 55.13 Athína 10 JUL 1990 56.69 Maia 11 AUG