Nawal mulls bid to be IOC's first female president
A woman, an African and a Muslim, Morocco's Nawal El Moutawakel is mulling a bid to succeed Jacques Rogge as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) next year.
"Why not?" the IOC vice president told dpa in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. "I have not decided yet, there is a long list of contenders, but I might."
El Moutawakel, 50, would be the first woman to take the helm of the IOC, a powerful global institution. It has only ever had one non-European leader, the United States's Avery Brundage.
El Moutawakel has been a world sports icon since she won the 400-metre hurdles in the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics, becoming the first Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal. If she does run for the IOC presidency, and wins, she will make history for the second time.
Rogge is set to leave the job next year, and his successor is to be chosen in September 2013 in Buenos Aires. Other likely candidates are China's Ser Miang, Germany's Thomas Bach and Puerto Rico's Richard Carrion.
The candidacy of El Moutawakel, the head of the coordinating committee for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games, would also be a boost for a cause she passionately believes in: the end of men's long-standing hegemony in sports.
"Someone once said the future of sport is feminine, and I believe that. You cannot move forward without both legs, men and women. Complete integration is important," she said.
Increased female presence at major sports events is not enough, she continued.
"We want full inclusion in administration. Women are present in all activities, why can't they be leaders in sport?"
El Moutawakel said the fight for increased female involvement has made progress and reached a historic milestone at the London 2012 Olympics.
"For the first time, there was female participation in all 26 sports. The female boxing competition was a great success, the stadium was almost completely full everyday. Also for the first time, 35 out of the 204 national Olympic committees had more women than men in their delegations, including Germany and the United States," she recalled.
The former athlete said there are currently also more women in leadership positions at international and national federations and also at the IOC.
For El Moutawakel, such progress is largely due to Rogge's efforts, and she is an enthusiastic supporter of his work.
"I met Rogge in 1984, when he was Belgium's head of mission at the Games in Los Angeles, and I already felt in him back then the future leader of a large organisation," she said.
Among his successes, she cited the fight against doping and the creation of the Youth Olympic Games.
Regarding women's role, El Moutawakel also sees reason to celebrate. She remembers that the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, initially opposed letting women take part in the event, arguing that it would be "unsightly and inappropriate."
"He has been proved wrong," said El Moutawakel, who now aspires to the job the Baron de Coubertin himself held for close to three decades, 1896-1925.