Haddad Brings Beijing Olympic Medal Home

Since the Sydney Olympics held in 2000, Algeria has been attending the Olympic Games, without being able to take home an Olympic medal. But on 10 August 2008, that all changed as a courageous judoka from Algeria, fought her way to the semi-finals, to win a bronze medal not only for herself but for her country. It was a massive moment for everyone in the Algerian Olympic delegation, as it was also the first medal to be won at the Beijing Olympics for the Arab world.

Soraya Haddad was born in Algeria on 30 September 1984. During the Athens Olympics in 2004, she only managed to get a ninth place finish in the judo 48 kg division, but went from strength to strength in the following years, moving from the 48 kg to the 52 kg division. In 2005, still fighting in the 48 kg division, Soraya Haddad won a bronze medal during the World Championships held in Cairo. During her time in the 52 kg division, she has won silver in the Super World Cup Hamburg (2005), silver at the Super World Cup Paris (2008) and in her latest appearance at the Super World Cup Hamburg (2008), she won a bronze medal. All theses tournaments and competitions were training Haddad for the Beijing Olympics.

A more mature and experienced Soraya Haddad took on the 2008 Olympics this year, with increased determination. All she wanted was a place on the podium, and she got it. Overwhelmed with emotion, Haddad expressed her elation at winning the bronze medal for Algeria and was congratulated by a very emotional and ecstatic group of Algerian representatives, consisting of the President of the Algerian Federation (Mohamed Meridja), her coach (Hamid Chaalal) and the President of the Algerian Olympic Committee (Mustapha Berraf).

Haddad’s victory was celebrated by everyone, as her medal brought back hope to the Algerian sports community and to the public. When speaking to the media, shortly after receiving her bronze medal, Soraya Haddad had said the she hoped that the medal won’t be her last, and that in the future, she will be able to continue making her country proud. She was also quoted saying: “I can’t find the words to express how I feel. I’m very moved to have won the bronze… I’d like to dedicate this medal to the people of Algeria and my whole family.” Looking at the way Haddad has improved and grown since her last Olympic experience, everyone will be watching her very closely at the next Olympics, as she will probably be better, faster and a greater threat to her opponents.