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Habiba Ghribi

Habiba GhribiHabiba Ghribi, born the 9th of April 1984 in Kairouan, Tunisia is a Tunisian middle and long-distance runner who focuses her efforts for the 3000 metre steeplechase.

She was the 2012 Summer Olympics gold medalist giving her country its first Olympic medal earned by a woman. She is also the Tunisian record holder in the event, having run 9:05.36 at the Memorial van Damme in Brussels in September 2015.

Ghribi competed at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships a number of times but found greater success on the track, winning a steeplechase silver at the 2006 African Championships in Athletics and a bronze in the 1500 metres at the 2009 Mediterranean Games.

She represented Tunisia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, finishing thirteenth in the first ever women's Olympic steeplechase race. She was voted the Best Sportswoman of 2009 by the Arabic daily newspaper Assahafa.

She began her career as a cross country runner and competed in the junior race at the 2000 IAAF World Cross Country Championships at the age of fifteen, finishing in 46th place - the second best of the Tunisian team.

She competed in the senior short race in 2002, finishing in 76th. Ghribi competed at the 2002 African Championships in Athletics in Radès, Tunisia and ended up in 11th place in the 5000 metres final.

Habiba GhribiGhribi won the gold in the junior race at the 2002 Pan Arab Cross Country Championships. She also went back to the junior race in 2003 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, improving to 23rd place and heading the Tunisian team to 7th place overall.

After modest finishes in the World Cross Country short race in the 2004 and 2005, she switched to focus on the 3000 meter steeplechase on the track instead when it became a world championship event.

She took part in her first World Championships in Athletics at the 2005 Helsinki Championships and finished eighth in her heat, not managing to qualify for the women's final but setting a personal best and Tunisian record of 9:51.49.

She gained her first major medal in the event the following year, taking the silver medal at the 2006 African Championships in Athletics behind world medallist Jeruto Kiptum.

Her next major competition was the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This was the first time that the Olympics had held a women's steeplechase competition and she greatly improved her record to 9:25.50 in the Olympic heats, but was a little slower in the final and finished 13th overall.

She attended a number of major events in 2009, starting with her first ever long race at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships where she finished in 41st place.

After this she ran in the 1500 metres at the 2009 Mediterranean Games and achieved a personal best of 4:12.37 on her way to a bronze medal.

Habiba GhribiShe made her second world steeplechase appearance at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics and further improved her best by a significant amount in the World final.

Her time of 9:12.52 took her up to sixth place. Ghribi closed the year with a performance at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final results, but she failed to finish the race.

In recognition of her achievements in 2009, Ghribi topped a poll organised by the Arabic language daily Assahafa and was named as the "Best Sportswoman in 2009" in Tunisia.

In September 2015 she ran a personal best, a Tunisian national record, an African record and the 4th fastest time ever of 9:05.36 at the Memorial van Damme in Brussels, Belgium.

In June 2016, Ghribi was officially named the 2012 Olympic champion in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, several months after the original gold medalist, Yuliya Zaripova of Russia, was disqualified due to a doping violation.

Ghribi was officially presented with the Olympic and world 3,000 metres steeplechase gold medals stripped from Russian doping cheat Yuliya Zaripova.

Ghribi won the silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, finishing behind Zaripova on each occasion.

Habiba GhribiZaripova was sanctioned in January 2015 due to anomalies in her athlete biological passport.

Her results from June 20, 2011 to August 20, 2011 and July 3, 2012 to September 3, 2012 were annulled and she was banned from competition for two years and six months from July 25, 2013.

The presentation of the gold medals to Ghribi took place in Rades, near Tunisia's capital Tunis, during the Under-23 Mediterranean Games with International Olympic Committee vice-president Nawal el Moutawakel in attendance.

"I'm acquiring two medals that are very prestigious for me and for Tunisia," said the 32-year-old Ghribi.

El Moutawakel, winner of the Olympic gold medals in the 400 metres hurdles at Los Angeles 1984, said: "It's very important to present this Olympic medal, that is so well deserved, to Habiba, here in her country."

As of December 2016, Ghribi was considering legal action to recover at least $38,000 in prize money that Zaripova had received at events from which she was later disqualified.

Her victory stands as a milestone in Tunisian sports history, and not only because Ghribi is a woman. The small north-African country had been medal-less in Athletics since the great Mohammed Gammoudi won silver in the 5,000-metre race at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Her medal is Tunisia's second in London; swimmer Oussama Mellouli won the bronze medal in the men's 1,500-metre freestyle on August 4.

Habiba Ghribi"This medal is for all the Tunisian people, for Tunisian women, for the new Tunisia," said Ghribi, who finished behind world champion Yuliya Zaripova of Russia who was later disqualified on a doping charge.

Her words were considered by many as a nod to Tunisia's women's rights movement, who were outraged by language proposed for Tunisia's draft constitution that states women are "complementary" rather than "equal" to men.

Lawmakers from the ruling moderate Islamist Ennahda party want the new constitution to state that a woman is a "complement to the man in the family and an associate to the man in the development of the country".

The draft text has drawn widespread criticism from opponents, who say it tears away the principle of women's equality, which is protected in Tunisia under the so-called Code of Personal Status (CSP).

"This position threatens and undermines past achievements and allows for a patriarchal system that gives all power to the men and denies women their most essential rights," warned a joint press release signed by several rights groups including Amnesty International.

Ennahda became the biggest party in Tunisia's parliament in the October 2011 elections that followed the overthrow of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Ennahda, which was banned under Ben Ali, assumed power on the pledge that it would not weaken women's rights.

Habiba GhribiAside from the debate over the new constitution, Ghribi's Olympic performance in itself has become a controversial topic between secular Tunisians and more conservative Muslims, who feel evermore emboldened to express their views while Ennahda is in power.

Hard-line Muslims said they took offence to Ghribi running "in her underpants" - a reference to her running attire - while representing their country.

While her shorts are considered of normal length by Olympic standards, some said she was running virtually naked. "Tunisia does not need medals that come from women who are uncovered and naked. We should strip the nationality of she who has dishonoured Tunisia with her nudity and debauchery," said one comment on the social networking website Facebook.

But Ghribi, who ran her personal best in the 3000-metre steeplechase on August 6 was defended by prominent Tunisians, like Ibrahim Kassas, an MP from the independent Al Aridha party.

"The underpants of Habiba Ghribi have honoured us," Kassas joked during a radio debate with female Ennahda MP Farida Labidi on Tuesday. "What have [Ennahda MP's] underpants done for us?"

Kassas went on to argue that the 28-year-old athlete had enabled Tunisia's flag to fly at the most important international sports event and called on sports minister Tarak Dhiab to welcome her upon her return home.

Interestingly, the topic of the debate - hosted by the popular ShemsFM station - was not Ghribi or her Olympic victory, but the controversial language Ennahda has backed for the constitution.

Tunisian women's rights activists are not standing idle, but have rallied to demand the language about women's "complementary" status be stricken from the constitutional text before it ever comes up for a vote in parliament. A protest has been organised for August 13, the date on which the CPS was adopted 56 years ago and a symbolic day for Tunisian women's rights.

Boosted by Ghribi's Olympic victory, feminist groups are gaining support and may be turning the tide against Ennahda officials.

Ghribi’s refusal to be overshadowed at the Olympic Games has given women's right groups a good reason to keep fighting.

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Personal Bests

Event Time Venue Date
1500 metres 4:06.38 Zagreb, Croatia 2 September 2014
3000 metres 8:52.06 Franconville, France 28 April 2013
5000 metres 16:12.9 Radès, Tunisia 22 June 2003
3000 metres steeplechase 9:05.36 Brussels, Belgium 11 September 2015
  • All information taken from IAAF profile.

Competition Record

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
2000 World Cross Country Championships Vilamoura, Portugal 46th Junior race
2002 World Cross Country Championships Dublin, Ireland 76th Short race
Pan Arab Cross Country Championships Amman, Jordan 1st Junior race
African Championships Radès, Tunisia 11th 5000 m
2003 World Cross Country Championships Lausanne, Switzerland 23rd Junior race
2004 World Cross Country Championships Brussels, Belgium 68th Short race
2005 World Cross Country Championships Saint-Étienne, France 48th Short race
World Championships in Athletics Helsinki, Finland heats Women's 3000 metres steeplechase 9:51.49 (NR)
2006 African Championships Bambous, Mauritius 2nd 3000 m st.
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 13th Women's 3000 metres steeplechase 9:25.50 (NR)
2009 World Cross Country Championships Amman, Jordan 41st Senior race
Mediterranean Games Pescara, Italy 3rd 1500 m 4:12.37 (PB)
World Championships in Athletics Berlin, Germany 6th Women's 3000 metres steeplechase 9:12.52 (NR)
2011 World Championships in Athletics Daegu, South Korea 1st Women's 3000 metres steeplechase 9:11.97 (NR)
2012 Olympic Games London, England 1st Women's 3000 metres steeplechase 9:08.37 (NR)
2014 Diamond League Zürich, Switzerland 1st 3000 m st. 9:15:23
2015 Diamond League Monaco, Monaco 1st 3000 m st. 9:11:28
2015 World Championships Beijing, China 2nd Women's 3000 metres steeplechase 9:19.24
2015 Diamond League Brussels, Belgium 1st Womens 3000 metres steeplechase 9:05.36 (NR) (AR)


Video of Habiba Ghribi Steeplechase win in Brussels, Belgium


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Publisher: Oneworld (UK/US)
Pub Date: 16 August 2012
Status: Draft manuscript
Length: 288 pages


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