Maria Mutola’s consistency, her record at major championships and her ability to compete at the highest levels of the sport for well over a decade are unmatched. She is the fourth track & field athlete to compete at six Olympic Games.
Maria’s greatest moment, though, came at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, when she finally won Olympic gold. She beat her major rival Stephanie Graf and Kelly Holmes.
She continued her successes in the 2001 season, grabbing the world title in Edmonton and again in 2003 in Paris. Mutola was unbeaten throughout 2003 and grabbed the headlines again that year, at the Memorial van Damme race in Belgium. By winning here, it meant that she became sole winner of the IAAF one million dollar jackpot, awarded to athletes who remained undefeated during the IAAF Golden League series of competitions. She put part of her winnings towards the foundation that she had established in her name in Mozambique.
Aiming to become the first woman to successfully defend the Olympic 800 m title in 2004, her fifth Olympics, Mutola ended up finishing fourth, and out of the medals. In 2005 her injuries were still lingering and she suffered several losses to opponents she would normally easily beat. She parted amicably with her coach Margo Jennings, before returning to good form in 2006, when she won the World Indoor title for a record seventh time.
Mutola had decided that the 2008 Olympic Games would be her last major championships, and she finished fifth. She publicly called an end to her 21-year long athletics career at the Weltklasse Zurichmeeting immediately after the Olympics.
After retiring from athletics she returned to her first sporting love, football. She played for Mamelodi Sundowns team in the South African women’s league. In 2011 she was captain of the Mozambique national soccer team at the All-Africa Games in Maputo.
In 2012 she coached South African runner Caster Semenya to a silver medal at the Olympic Games in London.
“It’s an honour to be invited as Event Ambassador for the TCS World 10K Bangalore, the world’s premier 10K run. India is fast emerging as one of the leading long distance running destinations of the world and I am looking forward to interacting with running enthusiasts in Bangalore. I hope my visit helps in some way to inspire young, budding athletes to work harder and achieve glory” said Mutola in her message.