Nouria Merah- Benida (ALG) winning in Sydney (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Olympic champion Benida is back in training after maternity leave

After taking the 2002 season off as a ‘sabbatical’, giving her the opportunity to start a family, Algeria’s women’s Olympic 1500 metres champion, Nouria Benida, is now back in full training.

Benida gave birth to a daughter Noor-Razane on 23 March 2002 but was able to keep a general level of fitness with light training throughout her pregnancy.

The previously unheralded Benida who sprang a surprise on the Romanian favourites Violeta Szekely and Gabriela Szabo in the 2000 Olympics to take the 1500m gold in Sydney, but then ran a comparatively low level campaign in 2001 (2:01.6 and 4:08.16 season’s bests), is now in Morocco, where she will be spending three weeks doing basic preparation work in the Ifrane mountains.

Benida’s husband and coach Anmar, says that Nouria’s main objective for 2003 is a gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Paris.

Her manager Jos Hermens confirmed that “Nouria is back in full training with a serious plan for the future….She started preparations two months ago but as yet it is too early to say when and where she will first compete. It is unlikely she will run indoors, and she will instead concentrate on next year’s outdoor season.”

Text – IAAF and an IAAF Correspondent in Alger