Mauritania’s Country Profile
Official country name: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Area: 419,212 sq miles (1,030,070 sq km)
Population: 3.3 million (2007 est.)
Median age: 17.1
Ethnic Groups: Moors of Arab, Berber and black African descent, 66 percent; blacks of African descent, 34 percent.
GDP and GDP per capita: $1.6 billion and less than $530 (2007 estimates)
Read a complete country profile of Mauritania
Mauritania’s Olympic History
First time represented at Summer Olympics: 1984
Gold medals won: 0
Athletes at the Beijing Olympics: 2
Number of Sports competing in at Beijing Olympics: 1
Medals at 2008 Beijing Olympics: 0
Mauritania’s Olympic Playbook
One of the most famous landmarks in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, is the Olympic Sports Stadium, which might suggest that this vast but poor, isolated and often overlooked country of West Africa, may have an Olympic tradition to speak of. It does not. Mauritania was to attend the Olympics for the first time in 1980 in Moscow but opted to join the 61-nation boycott to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan months earlier. Mauritania sent a couple of athletes to Los Angeles in 1984, and has been sending about as many to every Olympiad since—without illusions.
“Elite sports, such as Olympic Games, require that athletes be full-time athletes in order to improve and develop their abilities. It is not possible for an individual to train at the international level and maintain another job,” Mohammed Mahmoud Ould Ommah, president of the Mauritanian National Olympic Committee, told Maghrebia, the news service sponsored by the United States Africa Command. Translation: Mauritanian athletes cannot afford, like elite competitors in the West, the luxury of focusing exclusively on their training. Nor do they have the facilities, the trainers, the equipment or the sponsors to do so.
“We know that some of our people are still astonished when they see someone practicing running alone, something that reflects a lack of interest in sports,” Ommah continued. “In addition, runners must receive special material and moral attention to allow them to go on trips and participate in regional and international competitions. Unfortunately, our Ministry of Sports and Youth didn't take this into consideration. Nevertheless, we are participating in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and we are full of hope, Inshallah .”
Mauritania’s Athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Track & Field/Athletics
Souleymane Chabal El Moctar