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Updated February 22, 2006
Youssef BABA, Morocco (1500m)
Born 7 August 1979, Khénifra
Coach: Ayachi Amekdouf
Youssef Baba ranks 5th on Morocco's all-time 1500m list with 3:33.01, behind legends Hicham El Guerrouj (3:26.00) and Said Aouita (3:29.46), Azzedine Seddiki (3:31.48) and 2005 World Championships runner up Adil el Kaouch (3:32.86)
Baba started running in 1993 at a local schools cross-country championship in his hometown of Khénifra (in the Atlas mountains, Northern Morocco). He finished 3rd, and, encouraged, he followed with a 2nd place at the provincial championships. There he was recruited by the local sports club "Chabab Atlas Khénifra".
In his first race on an all-weather track, he ran the 1000m in 2:30 in Meknès and was spotted by Soussi Alaoui, who convinced him to join the Meknassi club. In his first official race for his new club at the 1998 "Coupe du Trône" Final, he finished 3rd of the 1500m in 3:44.
In 1999, he enrolled in the Rabat National Institute and was named to the national team. At the World Championships in Sevilla he was eliminated in the first round (3:48.08), but went on to win silver at the Pan-Arab Games in Amman behind Tunisia's Ali Hakimi. In 2000 he became African Champion in Algiers (3:42.07) and reached the final at the Sydney Olympic Games, where he pushed the pace to help El Guerrouj, who wound up losing a stretch duel with Kenya’s Noah Ngeny.
Baba and marathon double world champion Jaouad Gharib, also a Khénifra native, are among the founders of the club "Lion de l'Atlas,” which aims to promote sports and athletics in their home area, which is not short of talent.
"Youssef is one of our best athletes but his results haven't matched his abilities and ambition, due to lack of focus,” says his coach Ayachi Amekdouf. “I believe he has gained maturity and I'm optimistic about his chances to perform well in Moscow."
Yearly progression: 1999 – 3:34.51; 2000 – 3:33.92; 2001 – 3:34.21; 2002 – 3:36.34; 2003 – 3:35.17; 2004 – 3:33.01; 2005 – 3:33.75
2nd, Pan-Arab Games, Amman, 1999
1st round (3:48.08), World Championships, Sevilla, 1999
29th and team 3rd , short race, World Cross Country Ch., Vilamoura, 2000
1st (3:42.07), African championships, Algiers, 2000
12th (3:56.08), Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 (after setting pace for El Guerrouj)
21st, short race, World Cross Country Ch., Ostend, 2001
Semi-finalist (3:44.90), World Championships, Edmonton, 2001
7th (3:57.79), World Indoor Ch., Budapest, 2004
Semi-finalist (3:42.96), Olympic Games, Athens, 2004
1st (3:46.32), Pan-Arab Games, Algiers, 2004
2nd (3:47.61), Islamic Solidarity Games, Jeddah, 2005
Semi-finalist (3:42.12), World Championships, Helsinki, 2005
2nd (3:46.84) Francophone Games, Niamey 2005
Prepared by Mohamed Benchrif for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. © IAAF 2006.