Monte-Carlo – It was at the end of 2001 that the then out of work 21
year-old Rashid Ramzi who was living in the small Moroccan town of Safi,
received the most influential telephone call of his life.
At the time Ramzi was a very promising runner and had been part of the
Moroccan national junior development plan towards the end of the 1990’s.
Most significantly in Tunis in 1999 he displayed his growing talent in the
African Junior Championships where he took the silver medal in the 1500m
(3:47.13) behind Kenyan Peter Kipkoech (3:45.81).
Yet while athletically life was improving, Ramzi was having to face up to
the uncomfortable reality that he was living on the breadline. There was no
consistent work available to him, and as he moved out of the junior age group
it seemed impossible for him to make a living and continue his running at a
Then in late 2001 came an extraordinary offer by telephone from a former
friend from his home town, who a few years before had moved to the Gulf state
of Bahrain to seek employment. Basically, as Ramzi recounted the friend told
him, “come to Bahrain. Here there are a lot of possibilities for work and
if you join the military service, as well as the regular pay you can train in
the best conditions provided by the military’s own sports
Ramzi jumped at the chance, and by the end of the year he was in Bahrain
earning approximately 750US dollars a month. Also, as is automatic for all
foreigners who join the armed forces of Bahrain he was given a Bahraini
passport and immediate citizenship.
Now 23 years of age Ramzi still also retains a Moroccan passport, confirming
that “you keep this for life,” whatever other passports you
“I moved to Bahrain under my own economic motivation. There was no
approach from the Government, it was my personal private choice which only came
after the advice my friend gave me. I was desperate to find a way to
But “I am a Moroccan, as I was born a Moroccan,” is
Ramzi’s honest reply to the question of where his heart
Boulami is the coach
Now a corporal, Ramzi has been coached since 2001 by Khalid Boulami, the
Moroccan 5000m runner who won two World championship silver medals (1995 &
1997) and an Olympic bronze (1996) during his distinguished career.