Mahiedine Mekhissi, three-time Olympic medalist, retires at 37

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Mahiedine Mekhissi retires. The three-time Olympic medalist in the 3,000 meters steeplechase has decided to retire from athletics at the age of 37. It has one of the most extensive records in the discipline in France.

“I stop because the desire is no longer there. I no longer enjoy going to training. I felt it was time to say stop,” he told the sports daily.

Three Olympic Games medals

Mekhissi has one of the best track records in French athletics with three medals at the Olympic Games (silver in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, bronze in 2016 in Rio) and two at the World Championships (bronze in 2011 and 2013) over 3,000 m tower.

He also holds five European Championship titles (four over 3,000m steeplechase in 2010, 2012, 2016, 2018, one over 1,500m in 2014).

His last European title Since August 2018, Mekhissi had suffered several injuries, most notably to an Achilles tendon, and had not returned to international level.

Surprise in 2008

Each time, Mekhissi had appeared out of nowhere, cutting his competition appearances to the bare minimum before letting his knowledge of the race speak in the championship. This need to remain hidden, and this distrust that shone through once the microphones were cocked, perhaps revealed their origins in the wary reception that followed his dazzling performance on the international stage at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Silver medalist to everyone’s surprise, his unexpected podium aroused doubts and misunderstanding, especially since his trainer had a sulphurous reputation at the time.

“My doping is my belief in myself, in my strength. I immediately started having problems, I didn’t understand why so much was said about me… it makes me the man I am today,” he explained afterwards.

The tall dark man, strong for a cross-country skier, with a shy smile, had then experienced a few slips that tarnished his image. In July 2011, he exchanged surreal and ridiculous punches on the Monaco circuit with Mehdi Baala. It was then an official of the Creps de Reims who accused him of assaulting him.

Two mascots, those of Euro 2010 and 2012, strongly pushed, could also have met the impulsive character of Mekhissi, the eighth child of ten siblings of Algerian origin, raised in a residential area in Reims.

“Temperament”

Stimulated on the track, he had wanted to triumph at the Zurich Euro in the 3,000m steeplechase by stripping off his jersey like a footballer at home just before crossing the line, a symbol of his margin over the competition. A mistake in the rules that had earned him a vicious disqualification.

Two days later he retaliated by masterfully imposing himself over 1500m. All spewing Mekhissi.

“People have the wrong idea of ​​me, the European record holder for the 3,000 m steeplechase (8 min 00 sec 09, July 6, 2013 at the Stade de France) told AFP one day in his soft voice. stadium, we’re going to battle, I’m not the everyday Mahiedine. Humans cannot assimilate it. I think it’s sad, because sometimes they are afraid to approach me. My character and my temperament is my strength: without it I wouldn’t have the same track record.”

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