Azeddine Habz: a medal at the Paris 2024 Olympics?  “The holy grail of this already crazy career”
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Azeddine Habz: a medal at the Paris 2024 Olympics? “The holy grail of this already crazy career”

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He dreamed of winning the French championships when he came to France. Twelve years after he left his native Morocco, Azeddine Habz (age 30) now has eight national titles, the last dating from February 2024, a week after beating the French record in the 1500 meters in the room held by Mehdi Baala.

» It is an achievement to break a record that has stood since 2009. Mehdi Baala is a friend and someone I talk to a lot. He knows the distance, the difficulties of 1500 meters and gave me really valuable advice. He was happy for me and told me that records are made to be broken,” confides the native of Oulad Nacer.

Do as well, or even better, than Mehdi Baala in Paris

Undisputed champion of the discipline in France, according to all logic, Azeddine Habz will represent the French delegation during the next Paris-2024 Games. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of Mehdi Baala, bronze medalist in Beijing in 2008.

Plates are good to go for, but they’re still a bonus. What matters to me today is winning medals at international level.

Azeddine Habz

Before Paris became the epicenter of world sport, was a member of Val d’Europe Montévrain athletics want to take their time. He achieved the minimum Olympic requirements set at 3’33″50, during the Zurich Diamond League meeting in July 2023. “I don’t think about the Games every day. I work in stages and I’m just a process of preparing the body and gaits in South Africa. There are really great conditions and everything is done for high-level athletes here, he adds.

Both hard-working and strict, the Frenchman planned a month and a half of preparations in the land of the rainbow nation. – The form is quite good. I’m not in a rush like the other French to get the minimum Olympic requirements and complete the meetings, he explains.

I am also well ranked in the world rankings, so we decided to take our time this Olympic year.

Azeddine Habz

Using Tokyo to shine in Paris

In Paris, Azeddine Habz is clear that he will not have the same status as in Tokyo, where he had his first Olympic experience. The athlete from Val d’Europe judges himself to be “still young at the distance”, and admits that he lacked the experience to open the doors to the final. » I ran at a pace I did not know, and I was quickly overtaken. It was too fast for me and I didn’t have enough experience to slow down at the right moments.”

Three years later, Azeddine Habz assures that his races on Japanese soil have allowed him to develop and better “handle the stress of racing”. His results after this first Olympic participation testify to this. » It is an experience that helped me to the last World Cup. I took a semi-final, then a final, then the next time it will be a medal, that’s how it is (laughs), explains the half-distance runner, who now strives to win on a world level.

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It’s nice to see how far we’ve come, but I don’t intend to stop there!

Azeddine Habz is a member of Val d'Europe Montévrain Athlétisme
Azeddine Habz is a member of Val d’Europe Montévrain Athlétisme and hopes to shine in the Olympics. ©Photo sent to La Marne

With the Paris Games in his sights, Azeddine Habz has a number of great achievements. ONE gold medal at the Mediterranean Games in Oran in 2022, a finally at the World Championships in Budapest in the summer of 2023, a French record over a mile during the Diamond League final two months later… The middle distance runner is patiently but surely building towards Paris.

»There is a continuity. In my opinion, I have my place in the Olympic Games! It is fifty-six places and I am the seventh in the world,” he declares. Passionate and relentless, only an injury seems to be able to stop the French athlete. It is precisely a five millimeter lesion in the soleus muscle that forced him to skip the last indoor WC in Glasgow, at the very beginning of March. » It was a difficult decision to make. But, it was not wise to sacrifice everything for a medal in these world championships. Being a professional is not just about training well, it’s also about making good decisions and listening to your body, he explains.

Don’t skip steps

While he currently considers himself to be in “very good shape”, Azeddine Habz is keeping his eyes fixed on the next deadlines. Before the Games, the Diamond League meetings in Marrakech and Oslo, then the EC at the beginning of June, are marked on the Frenchman’s calendar.

When these runs are over, Azeddine Habz allows himself to dream. He nevertheless realizes the opportunity he has to shine in front of his audience. » When I think about it too soon, it will end up going to my head, and that’s not healthy. We are lucky to have the Games in Paris, knowing that the last time was a hundred years ago. Those who experienced these games are no longer here today! “It’s a truly unique opportunity and I really plan to take advantage of it.”

Azeddine Habz has the ambition to “shine at home and win a medal”. On the famous pitch of the Stade de France, on August 6, the eight-time national champion could offer himself a magnificent, if late, birthday present (he will celebrate his 31st birthday on July 19): “It would be a dream to do that in Paris, at the Stade de France no less! It would truly be the holy grail, the icing on the cake, for this already crazy career! “.

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