Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi won the gold medal in the 1500 meters Tuesday night in what’s being described as one of the most remarkable recoveries at the London Olympics. The 24-year-old Makhloufi won his country’s first medal at the Games only 24 hours after being disqualified from the Olympics and then reinstated.
“It’s the will of God. Yesterday I was out, today I’m in,” said Makhloufi, after breaking away from the field and winning in 3:34.08. “This is a gift for the Algerian people and for the whole of the Arabic world.”
He was given a second chance after the IAAF, track and field’s world governing body, expelled him from the Olympics for “not making a bona fide effort” during an 800 meter heat. He jogged and walked the first 300 meters of the 800 meter heat and then stepped off the track. The Algerian athlete, though, was able to produce medical evidence and he was cleared to compete in the 1500 meters.
The Makhloufi saga followed the disqualification of eight badminton players last week from the Olympics for not trying in their matches, in order to get a more favorable draw in the later rounds.
Makhloufi is also the reigning African champion at 800 meters. He is the first Algerian to win Olympic gold in the two lap race since Noureddine Morceli at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.