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Updated 30 October 2007
Amine LAÂLOU, Morocco (800m)
Born 13 May 1982 in Salé
Coach: Ayoub Mendili
Amine Laâlou is a gifted sprinter with great potential over 800m. As a youngster he was attracted to basketball, following in his father's footsteps. But he was spotted one day by the athlete-turned-coach, Najat Bentalha, who persuaded him to turn to track.
Although Laâlou felt no initial attraction to the sport, of which he knew nothing, Bentalha managed to convince him of his talent, and he signed up at the famous Olympique Marocain, one of the leading Moroccan clubs. Aziz Daouda, Morocco’s national technical director and president of the Olympique, noticed the youngster's talent and had him recruited by the Institut National d'Athletisme in Rabat, where he was to be coached by Ayoub Mendili over 800m.
Laâlou got his first overseas experience at the World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 1999, where a second place in his heat (1:54.93) was not enough to reach the final. At the World Junior Championships, in Santiago, Chile, in 2000, he recorded a PB 1:51.55 in his heat but failed to progress beyond the semi-final.
The next year, at the African Junior Championships, in Mauritius, he scored another PB, 1:49.94, good enough for the silver medal. In 2002, he performed creditably at the African Championships in Tunis (1:48.68) but also travelled to Europe and elsewhere in Africa, and improved his PB by more than two seconds to 1:46.5.
In 2003, Laâlou’s first full international season, he participated in three European Grand Prix, the North African Championships in Tunis (1st in 1:46.18) and the World Championships in Paris (1:46.75 in heat). He also lowered his PB to 1:45.20. But, in 2004, he broke through on the big scene, finishing 4th in the World Indoor Championships in Budapest (1:46.57), recording an early-season world-leading time in Milan (1:44.76) and then notching a big PB in the Zurich B race, 1:43.68 for 2nd behind Youssef Saad Kamel of Bahrain (the former Gregory Konchellah of Kenya). It would be the 5th fastest time in the world in 2004.
Morocco's athletics hierarchy had high hopes for this promising youngster in the 2004 Olympics, in Athens, and at the 2005 World Championships, in Helsinki, but on both occasions he failed to progress further than the semi-finals. Laâlou’s inexperience showed in Athens where, after advancing comfortably from his heat (1st in 1:45.88), he fell badly off the pace in his semi-final and failed to qualify (7th in 1:47.53). In Helsinki he was 5th in the fastest semi-final and just missed qualifying on time.
At the 2007 World Championships, in Osaka, Morocco expected a medal. Though Morocco had three athletes in the men’s 800m semi-finals, Laâlou was the only one able to secure a spot in the final. However, he finished a disappointing 6th, thus confirming, at least for now, that he is a better athlete on the circuit than in international championships.
2000: 1:51.55; 2001: 1:49.94; 2002: 1:46.5; 2003: 1:45.20; 2004: 1:43.68; 2005: 1:44.22; 2006: 1:43.25; 2007: 1:43.94
800m: 1:43.25 (2006)
2000 sf World Junior Championships (3:00.54)
2001 2nd African Junior Championships (1:49.94)
2003 1st North African Championships (1:46.18)
2003 hts World Championships (1:46.75)
2004 4th World Indoor Championships (1:46.57)
2004 sf Olympic Games (1:47.53)
2004 3rd Pan Arab Games (1:46.86)
2005 1st Islamic Solidarity Games (1:45.96)
2005 sf World Championships (1:45.05)
2006 sf World Indoor Championships (1:47.55)
2007 6th World Championships 1:47.45
Prepared by Mohammed Benchrif for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2007.