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The 400m hurdles for women made its Olympic debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. In the final, El Moutawakel led from start to finish and improved her personal best by 0.76 seconds.
El Moutawakel’s achievement made her the first woman from an Islamic nation to win an Olympic medal and the first Moroccan athlete of either sex to win a gold medal.
Back in her hometown of Casablanca, her final was televised live at 2 a.m. When El Moutawakel took her victory lap carrying a huge Moroccan flag, people in Casablanca poured into the streets to celebrate.
In 1998, El Moutawakel was chosen to be a member of the International Olympic Committee. She was Chairwoman of the Evaluation Commission for the selection of the host city for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
On December 21, 2017, Nawal El Moutawakel was awarded the National Order of the Southern Cross (Commander Class) by the Brazilian Government at a ceremony held in Rabat (Morocco). This is the highest honour that can be awarded by Brazil to foreign nationals to express the gratitude of the Brazilian nation. El Moutawakel received the honour from the Brazilian Ambassador to Morocco, José Humberto de Brito Cruz, in recognition of her contribution to the success of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 as the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission.