Maria de Lurdes Mutola was on born 27 October 1972 in Mozambique. She is a retired female track and field athlete from Mozambique who specialized in the 800 metres running event. She is only the fourth athlete to compete at six Olympic Games. She is a three-time world champion in this event and a one-time Olympic champion.
Mutola never broke the world record in her favorite event but she is regarded by many track insiders and fans as one of the greatest 800 metres female runners of all time due to her consistently good results in major championships and her exceptional longevity which saw her compete at the highest level for two decades before retiring from athletics in 2008 at the age of 35. She is also the only athlete ever to have won Olympic, World, World indoor, Commonwealth Games, Continental Games and Continental Championships titles in the same event. She is also the main coach and mentor of Caster Semenya, generally regarded as the best female 800 metre runner in history.
Over the next few years Mutola failed to improve on her best time, but still won gold at the African Championships in Cairo in 1990. She faced little opposition in Mozambique and only trained properly in the run-up to big competitions. Attempts were made to organize scholarships for her to train abroad, but it was not until 1991 that, thanks to an IOC solidarity program, she was awarded a scholarship to go to the United States to study and train. Springfield High School in Oregon was her host school, due to the fact that there was a Portuguese-speaking staff member (since Mutola spoke no English).
Maria dominated the 800 metre event, winning the 800 metre title at the 1993 and 1995 World Indoor Championships and the 1993 World Championships. At the latter event, held in Stuttgart, she won by over two seconds, the biggest ever winning margin in an international women’s 800 m final. A favorite for the world outdoor title in 1995 as well, she was disqualified in her semi-final for stepping outside of her lane. Some consolation came at the Memorial Van Damme meeting in Brussels a few weeks after the World Championships, when she broke the world record for 1000 metre with a time of 2:29.34, becoming the first woman ever to run the distance in less than two and a half minutes. She also went on to break the world indoor record for 1000 metre. She also went undefeated (3-0) vs that years World Champion Ana Quirot, including crushing Quirot at the season ending Grand Prix final where she finished 1st to Quirot’s 5th.