As the international Women day is a stone's throw away, today Africa, March 6th 2021 Africa Sports Ventures Group and the rest of the world open pages of the history of Mozambique's Olympics, which could have not been written without the name of one woman, Maria Mutola.
'The Maputo Express,' as Mutola is fondly called, is and still remains Mozambique's first and only Olympic medalist.
Born Maria de Lurdes Mutola in the poor shanty town of Chamanculo in October 27th 1972, 'Lurdinha' made her debut at the Olympics in 1988 as a 15 year old with only a few months of athletics training.
It was however no easy road for Mutola to stardom. After being compelled by renowned Mozambican writer and poet José Craveirinha to switch from football to athletics after spotting her huge potential, plans were set in place for the then 14-year old to join Benfica Athletics Club in Portugal.
Those plans however proved futile as she was denied permission to leave by the Mozambican government. Despite this, with just a few months of athletics training, a then 15 year old Mutola won silver at the 1988 African Championships. A month later, she competed at the Seoul summer Olympics but failed to make it out of the first round heats despite running a new personal best record.
Mutola's progress however stagnated as she failed to get proper training in her home country. Her luck however changed when she earned an International Olympic Solidarity scholarship to study at Springfield High School in Oregon, United States of America in 1991 where she then trained with Margo Jennings.
Under Jennings, Mutola improved and she dominated the 800 metres discipline in the period between 1993 and 2003.
Such was her dominance she became the first athlete ever to win Olympic, World, World Indoor, Commonwealth Games and Continetal Championships in the same discipline.
Her Olympic medals, a gold at Sydney in 2000 and a silver at Atlanta in 1996 remain the only medals ever won by Mozambique at the Olympics.
After retirement, Mutola tried her hand at coaching and coached South Africa's Caster Semenya to a silver medal in the 800m at London 2012 Olympics.
Outside sport, Mutola runs her Lurdes Mutola Foundation which helps young athletes in her own country of Mozambique realise and reach their sporting and academic potential.
As part of her humanitarian efforts, she also works with her country's Ministry of Health and UNICEF in an immunisation campaign against measles and polio.
Africa, ASVG, The World thank you Mutola